Fundraising Manager Position for WCSU
We are seeking funding to continue to build upon the recent successful fundraising efforts of the Windsor Central Supervisory Union (WCSU). Dollars raised from private sources will support and offset costs associated with the new Woodstock Union Middle and High School. Since the campaign commenced in the spring of ’22, we have secured nearly $3 million in pledges for the new High School Middle School (HSMS).
The requested grant will fund 75% of the FTE of the Fundraising Manager’s position which was created and filled by the district in 2022 but is not permanently funded. This position is critical to ensure that private philanthropic dollars continue to be raised for the capital campaign for the new HSMS and to supplement and enhance the district’s programmatic needs now and in the future. The Fundraising Manager also oversees all communications for the new HSMS including, the new HSMS’ website, print and digital media efforts and public education.
Total Project Budget
Name of Applicant / Organization / Business
Windsor Central Supervisory Union
70 Amsden Way Woodstock, VT 05091
Name of Project Coordinator
Contact's Email Address
Organization's Website URL
Applicatant / Organizational Description
Windsor Central Supervisory Union (WCSU) was formed in 2018 to unite Woodstock's high school/middle school with five elementary schools in Barnard, Killington, Pomfret, Reading, and Woodstock.
Through unity, we achieve economies of scale, efficiency, and synergy that benefit roughly 1,000 students–with more than 30% residing in Woodstock–along with 14,000 residents hailing from 23 rural Vermont towns. By sharing resources, we help to keep community tax rates low while providing a high-quality, well-rounded education to all students.
The principals and teachers at WCSU’s schools are supported at the district level by a superintendent and roughly 20 full-time and part-time staff. These employees provide specialized skills and experience that individual schools could not otherwise afford, in such areas as finance, information technology, fundraising, human resources, food service, maintenance, and student support.
Like many schools nationwide, WCSU has incorporated its mission into our unique "Portrait of a Graduate," which describes in detail the goals that guide us: to help every student achieve academic excellence; to teach critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills; to encourage students' self-direction; and to shape future citizens who effectively steward their communities.
If you are applying on behalf of an organization, what is your total organizational budget?
$25,836,048 for FY ‘24
Detailed Project Description
Our proposed project aligns with the EDC’s priorities and goals in several ways. The new high school/middle school made possible in part by the Fundraising Manager's efforts will: 1) protect the health, well-being, and ability to learn of its students; 2) help to market the Town of Woodstock (and the surrounding area) to families who want to provide a top-quality education for their children; and 3) contributing to the town's air quality and energy efficiency by providing a green facility that will be one of the first public high schools in Vermont, and one of few in New England, to obtain a net-zero classification.
Built in the 1950s and 1960s, the Woodstock Union Middle and High School building has far exceeded its planned lifespan of 30-40 years. According to a 2022 study by the Vermont Department of Education, the building caused our school district’s facilities to be ranked the second worst in the State in terms of their condition. Among these findings is the reality that many of the building’s systems are failing, including the building’s HVAC, heating perimeter, windows, roof, electrical, plumbing and septic.
These conditions present significant obstacles to learning and potential health concerns, including inadequate ventilation, poor acoustics, substandard ADA accommodations and insufficient safety standards. In 2022 alone, several classrooms were offline due to failing heating systems. The district had to spend $150,000 in emergency repairs to the High School’s heating system, with an additional $1 million needed in 2023 to provide heat to the building.
To address these challenges and to facilitate modern learning and teaching practices, a Facilities Analysis and master planning process has been completed, led by a team of educational experience designers, architects, and engineers. During a period of over five years, the group studied possible solutions and ultimately concluded that a new facility would provide the best value and exceptional opportunities and benefits for students, teachers, and the surrounding community. To date, the master plan, high-level design, significant permitting, and costing for the new facility have been completed.
To help offset the total project cost, a private fundraising effort commenced in 2022 led by the newly formed Fundraising Working Group. The next milestone needed to break ground is to finish the construction plans, site work and associated permitting, which should be completed by early 2024. Following a successful bond vote at Town Meeting Day in 2024, the new school can be constructed in 18 months–in time for the start of school in the fall of 2025.
Again, the construction of this much-needed new building relies on the Fundraising Manager position, for which your grant award will be used. A full job description for this position is attached and summarized below:
REPORTING: The position reports directly to the WCSU’s Fundraising Work Group, with an indirect reporting line to the Finance Committee. This position also works closely with the District Finance manager.
PRIMARY GOALS: To ensure that the capital campaign for the new building stays on schedule, with a high level of visibility and momentum that inspires a sense of confidence in surpassing a first-ever campaign with a goal of $20 million+.
● Create the infrastructure for a successful new school campaign.
● Serve as the liaison between the district’s fundraising work group, donors, District Finance Manager, and Finance Committee.
● Manage the capital campaign and donor prospects.
● Work with vendors and volunteers to produce a case for support, website, and other collateral materials.
● Ensure proper procedures are followed, including the receipting and acknowledgment of gifts and gift agreements.
● Aid Fundraising Workgroup leadership in planning and implementing a strategy for private, federal/state and public funding.
● Perform proactive local and regional research on prospects and family foundations.
● Execute regional and national private foundation research.
● Create and submit proposals to secure private foundation funding for the campaign.
● Assist in developing and executing a communications plan.
● Manage a small portfolio of leadership major gift prospects by cultivating, soliciting and stewarding gifts.
The specific steps required to achieve the below goals are outlined in the Fundraising Manager’s job description above. While the campaign’s overall goal is $20 million, the below dollar amounts represent the minimum dollars needed to offset the proposed bond which will be presented to the community on Town Meeting Day in 2024; the proposed minimum fundraising will keep the tax cap at the percentage currently proposed by the school district of 16%. If the campaign is successful in raising the full $20 million, the tax cap will be offset to levels lower than 16%. For illustrative purposes, $1 million of private funding applied to our current school budget would reduce tax rates by 5%
● Raise $2 million in pledges for the HSMS capital campaign by December 2022. (Surpassed on 12/31/22)
● Raise $5 million in pledges for the HSMS capital campaign by December 2023.
● Hold a successful bond vote to obtain financing for the new HSMS by March 2024.
● Slated opening of the new HSMS by September 2025.
● Raise $10 million for the HSMS capital campaign by June 2026.
● Raise $12.5 million for the HSMS capital campaign by December 2028.
In 2022, the WCSU Board endorsed a Fundraising & Communications Work Group; this group is actively engaged as volunteers working alongside the Fundraising Manager to advance this project. The group includes community members with deep ties to the region while others are newcomers; this group brings their expertise and connections from various industries including fundraising, communications, business development and renewable energy.
The work group includes: Jason Drebitko, Katie Hamlin, Mark Harris, Jon Hussey, Ben Jervey, Dave Matz, Nicole Morgese Moore, Erika Weingarten Cupples and Jamie Ziobro. Additionally, the district Superintendent Sherry Sousa is a tireless advocate of the new school along with her leadership team and the WCSU School Board.
Project Budget Narrative
The district has made strategic investments in building its fundraising operations and recently secured a $49,000 private donation which is allocated for 25% of the fundraising manager’s FTE with the remaining dollars earmarked for program/supply needs: printed and digital materials, donor events, mailings, supplies, etc. Additionally, the district has committed $51,500 in permanent funding for a newly established (June 2022) Grant Writer position. While the fundraising program at WCSU is in its early stages, the Fundraising Manager and the Grants Writer work in concert to raise funds from individuals, foundations and grants to support the district’s students, teachers, and programs, in addition to fundraising for the new building.
The district is grateful for the support it has received from the EDC. The EDC's grant in 2021 has enabled the district to free up funding from other sources thereby allowing the hiring of the first-ever Fundraising Manager position in March 2022. In those last nine months, nearly $3 million has been raised for the HSMS capital campaign, thanks largely to the EDC’s investment.
Project Budget - Itemized
Fundraising and Communication,Supplies & Materials
25% of the Fundraising Manger’s FTE
75% of the Fundraising Manager’s FTE
What will success look like?
Success takes two forms for this project. The first is the successful construction of a new building. The second is the raising of funds that enable that construction. That second goal can be measured for the fiscal year 2024 (the year for which we request funding) in these ways:
● Raise $5 million in pledges for the capital campaign by December 2023.
o Develop a pipeline of potential candidates to the capital campaign and assist in/or personally solicit and secure gifts.
o Develop tailored collateral materials for donors highlighting the campaign’s priorities for the new HSMS: student success, environmental stewardship, campus and community and innovation.
o Build connections with local and national foundations and create tailored proposals in support of securing dollars for the new HSMS.
o Serve as “campaign consultant” to the Fundraising Work Group and WCSU School Board, advising on strategy and fundraising best-practice; provide quarterly updates on fundraising and communications progress to date.
● Hold a successful bond vote to obtain financing for the new HSMS by March 2024.
o Establish a social media presence and create educational content for the new HSMS.
o Organize events to engage and educate the community, including town hall meetings and tabling events at public venues.
o Create leadership talking points and social media/email “toolkits” for volunteers, staff and community members.
o Maintain the new HSMS website and refresh content as needed.
o Create email campaigns to educate our community about the new HSMS.
Community support for this project
Some of the answers to this question are described above via the efforts of the Fundraising and Communications Work Group. In other cases, this community support is also described in the above question outlining the major goals and activities for 2023. However, the community was also engaged in the Facility Analysis and Master Planning in 2019, which included evaluating the current facility and ultimately determining that a new school was the most cost-efficient and effective option in addition to defining the major goals in terms of the design and programmatic needs for a new facility.
Community support for this project
As mentioned above, the district is in the early stages of establishing a fundraising operation and has already committed to permanent funding for the Grant Writer position. The district projects that it will be able to fund the Fundraising Manager position by the ‘24-’25 or ‘25-’26 fiscal years.