from the Principal
Reflecting on the 2019-2020 school year can feel somewhat surreal. We kicked off the year focused on “Taking Care” of our community, ourselves and one another. We opened the doors to our beautiful, brand-new Townhouse building in September with excitement and celebration, although we had no idea that those doors would be closed so prematurely.
As the year started, everything felt new: new Health and Wellness programming in Middle and Upper Schools; new homes for the Upper School and for the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice; new classrooms with flexible furniture (and walls) to encourage collaboration; new performing arts classrooms and performance spaces; a long-desired status as a 100% ADA accessible campus; and, overall, a new way of teaching, learning, working and growing together as a community in our new home. Just as we hit our stride, our school and the world made another transition, this one unexpected and terrifying.
As COVID-19 marched into New York, I made the decision to close our campus on March 10, ahead of our spring break, and only days ahead of New York’s mandated shutdown. It was a difficult decision, but one I am confident was right for Friends. The new reality of Distance Learning was always going to be a challenge, but our controlled closure meant we were better able to prepare our students and teachers for what was to come. We sent students home with all of their materials, including iPads and Mi-Fis for those who needed them, and teachers were allowed the time to consider and gather what they might need for a prolonged closure. Our teachers undertook a two-day crash course in Distance Learning, even as panic swirled around us. And, of course, a prolonged closure it turned out to be. So new experiences kept coming: a new, shared vocabulary (“COVID,” “quarantine,” “mask fatigue”), new technology for daily life (Zoom); new, virtual All-Community Meetings for Worship (perhaps one of the few silver linings of the pandemic); and new fundraising initiatives (The Friends Is Family Fund).
The Friends Is Family (FIF) Fund, originally created in 2009, was revived in spring 2020 to help support members of the community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Results of this new initiative were nothing short of remarkable. In all, 106 donors rapidly contributed to the fund — 15 of whom were faculty or staff — even in the midst of grave uncertainties in their own lives. A total of $421,000 was raised for the FIF Fund. To those who contributed, I offer my humble gratitude on behalf of Friends Seminary. You have shown us all what it means to let our lives speak; to live our mission and values.
In the midst of all this newness, some things did remain the same. We were fortunate to host the annual Benefit Auction in early March at the Ziegfeld Theater. It was an exciting evening of joy and togetherness celebrating our extraordinary community just before we had to part, although that was still several days away. At the end of the evening, $256,100 was raised to support a new endowed fund: The Benefit Auction Endowment for Faculty and Staff Graduate Studies. This new fund, created to endow support for faculty and staff graduate studies, allows Friends to sustain the program in perpetuity. Click here to see the video presented during the Benefit on the enriching experiences of professional development.
At the center of all of our fundraising efforts, the Fund for Friends continued in 2019-2020 to be a vital and invaluable resource for supporting the daily operations of the School, whether fully in-person or fully remote. Overall, $2,593,000 was raised for the Fund. In a year riddled with uncertainties for families, employees and alumni alike, participation in the Fund remained robust.
No review of this singular school year could be complete without an expression of deep and genuine gratitude for our many dedicated volunteers. From the Parents Association’s creative summer events to the Benefit Auction Committee, the Fund for Friends Volunteers to the Alumni Council, the Benefit Art Committee to the Board of Trustees, Friends Seminary simply could not be all that we are without your generosity of time, talent and spirit. Together, volunteers and donors have shown a commitment to the School that has ensured that Friends will continue to move forward and grow as we engage in the world that is—even in a pandemic—and pursue our mission of bringing about a world that ought to be.
Thank you for believing in us.
Robert “Bo” Lauder
Tuition & Fees
Interest from Endowment & Temporarily Restricted Funds
TOTAL OPERATING INCOME: $45,642,051
TOTAL OPERATING EXPENSES: $45,642,051
Salaries & Benefits
Instructional Activities &
Plant & Operations
Rent to NYQM and Shared Maintenance Fund
Board Designated Funds
(as of June 30, 2020)