I am pleased to submit the Friends Seminary audited endowment report for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Happily, the School returned for the 2021-2022 school year to a near pre-pandemic state, with in-person teaching and programming. Because of the perseverance of our students, and commitment of our faculty and administrative staff, the shared passion for learning was evident everyday. We were able to gain strength from the intentional care that is a hallmark of our community.
Through each classroom discussion, group project, essay assignment, after-school game and moment on the stage, as well as through every Meeting for Worship, conferences and workshop, the Friends community sought truth through queries and reflection. It was a new, yet familiar, beginning.
None of these activities, collaborations, and moments of growth would be possible without a strong endowment, for which I am humbly grateful to our community for supporting this past year. At the beginning of my tenure, I sought to increase our endowment, recognizing that a strong endowment not only provides security to our day-to-day programming, but also preserves its right to a robust future. The growth of our endowment from $4.9 million in 2002 to $37.5 million this past year allows us to imagine the continued legacy of Friends Seminary, a legacy that began in 1786. This is only possible due to the support of our donors.
Today, I am inspired. The past few years have shown us the strength, vitality, and growth of our community. What a community we are! We have grown tremendously, despite the global pandemic. We have emerged re-committed to Friends, thanks to your generous, lasting commitment to protecting the School’s foundation.
Robert “Bo” Lauder
Head of School
Over the last 20 years, the Head of School and Trustees have dedicated efforts to build the endowment through several campaigns including 225th, Lift Every Voice and Light the Future, in addition to bequests. Thanks to these efforts, and our wider community’s support, contributions to the endowment have increased more than fourfold in the past five years.
ENDOWMENT TOTAL: $37,544,400
While the 2021-2022 fiscal year saw loss due to the financial downturn, the endowment still retained high growth.
Endowed gifts provide both immediate and long-term benefits. Each year, funds released from the Endowment total are used to fund our annual operating budget. In 2002, Head of School Bo Lauder's first year at Friends, the endowment totaled $4.9 million. Each year since, the endowment has grown immensely, providing growth, flexibility and innovation in all areas of the School's daily operation and program. It is also key in providing financial aid to students who cannot afford full tuition.
Spending release to the operating budget: $206,000
Spending release to the operating budget: $1,509,700
The endowment consists of both unrestricted funds, which can be designated to the School’s highest need, and named funds.
Financial Assistance 55%
Curriculum & Program 15%
Faculty & Staff Support 8%
Endowment for the Education of Quaker Children 4%
Currently, Friends Seminary has
Financial Aid Budget
received tuition assistance
with a median award of
Due to the growth of the endowment, the Board of Trustees’ aim to increase the financial aid budget to the level where it represents 17% of gross tuition revenue was achieved in 2021-2022.
Where We Stand
The size of a school’s endowment signals strength and is one way in which the institution is assessed. Trustees in their oversight are mindful of Friends’ position in peer school endowment comparisons.
Currently, Friends Seminary's endowment per student ranks 10th out of 14 peer schools in New York City.
The School's overall endowment total stands 12th out of 14.
The Richard Eldridge Lifetime Learners Fund
Richard Eldridge, PhD, former Head of School, believed fiercely that everyone at Friends is ever a teacher and a learner. Serving as Friends’ 34th Head of School from 1989-2002, Rich’s tenure included strengthening the School’s academics, expanding the grounds–which included opening the 15th Street Annex–and instilling the belief that each member of the community has something of value to impart into every conversation, every initiative, and every campaign.
Born out of this conviction, the Richard Eldridge Lifetime Learners Fund was established in 2004 to support continuing education opportunities for faculty and staff. Since its inception, 21 grants have been awarded to faculty and staff.
In the 2021-2022 academic year, three members of our community received the Richard Eldridge Lifetime Learners Fund:
Adrienne Almeida, Director of MS & US Library Services, attended Simone Leigh’s Loophole of Retreat, a gathering of more than 700 Black women artists and scholars convened by acclaimed sculptor Simone Leigh and curator Rashida Bumbray as part of the Venice Biennale. The symposium consisted of dialogue, performances, and presentations centered on Black women’s intellectual and creative labor. It provided the key directives of maroonage, manual, magical realism, medicine, and sovereignty.
Adrienne comments, “This was a life-changing opportunity for everyone who attended. A day has not gone by that I haven’t reflected on this experience. As an anti-racist feminist educator, I am grateful to be a part of a larger community of writers, researchers, and creatives who are doing liberation work.”
Claudine Zamor, Senior Associate Director of Admissions, attended an admissions conference hosted by The Erdman Institute for Enrollment Leadership. The conference is committed to advancing the knowledge, skill, leadership and collegiality among senior and mid-career independent school admission professionals. Claudine and her conference colleagues had the opportunity to discuss driving applications through community networks, particularly through alumni of Color, educating applicant families around the financial aid process, marketing, and how to be more mindful and intentional about implementing Diversity, Equity and Belonging into the admissions process.
Claudine shares of the experience, “I thrive on collaborating with and learning from others and to be able to do so in such a beautiful setting was a great opportunity. I valued this experience tremendously and know that I can reach out to my fellow attendees at any time.”
Laura McGinley, Director of Extended Programs, attended a six-week course on art writing hosted by the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. The goal of the course is to expand both new and experienced writers’ vocabulary and ideas around visual art, while also encouraging them to explore their strengths, define their potential contributions, and imagine their ideal audiences.
When speaking of the value of such a learning, Laura shared, “The opportunity to submit work via this program offered me the space to incorporate humor, creativity, and unfinished ideas into something that resulted in positive and validating feedback. It was fun and fulfilling to bring other aspects of myself to something that has tangible benefits for the professional parts of myself. This was an inspiring experience that I carry with me.”
These opportunities have allowed faculty and staff at Friends Seminary to follow curiosities, ask questions, and grow–as professionals, and also as individuals. These passions weave the school together, and make us all powerful, unique; our stories and our drive are what makes Friends, Friends.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about the Friends Seminary endowment, a vital source of financial strength and stability for our school.
Despite a challenging market backdrop in FY2022, the endowment closed the fiscal year at a near-record high level of $37.5 million. The generosity of our community contributed $1.3 million to the endowment over the course of the fiscal year. Thank you.
The endowment served as a material contributor to the School’s gross revenue last year, distributing more than $1.5 million in support of the 2021-2022 operating budget. More than 60% of endowment distributions were directed in support of financial aid.
The endowment’s investment program is overseen by the School’s Investment Committee and has been managed by a dedicated team at Goldman Sachs for the past six years. More than half of the investment assets are intentionally managed in alignment with Quaker values.
Since the inception of the current investment program, the endowment has experienced an annualized return of approximately 6%, ahead of relevant benchmarks and demonstrating impressive risk-adjusted performance relative to the global equity market which annualized at approximately 7% over the same period. For the calendar year 2022, the endowment fell approximately 11% and ended the year at $38.6 million. The CY2022 performance was well in excess of benchmarks and demonstrated resilience given the market backdrop in which the global equity market declined approximately 18%.
Under Head of School Bo Lauder’s leadership, and thanks to the commitment of our community, the endowment has grown from roughly $5 million to $38.6 million over the past 20 years. Despite this remarkable progress, the endowment stands below our goal of two times the annual operating budget and ranks behind our peer schools throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. While our endowment corresponds to approximately $50,000 per student, across our peer group the average is approximately $80,000 per student.
We can feel confident that we will continue to see growth in our endowment in the years ahead, driven by the stewardship of the Friends Seminary Investment Committee, our partnership with talented investment advisors, and our philanthropic community. A larger endowment will further strengthen the School’s financial footing, enable us to expand our already generous financial aid budget, and allow us to continue to pay our faculty and staff at the highest rates in New York City. Thank you in advance for your continued support, giving, and trust.
Nicole Davison Fox
Treasurer, Board of Trustees