The Quaker mission of Friends Seminary is strengthened through an increasingly robust endowment that provides funds for financial aid, curriculum program and development, faculty and administrative staff support, and more.
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.
The 2020-2021 fiscal year showed extraordinary growth of the endowment, as we surpassed the $40,000,000 mark.
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: $1,227,426
The endowment consists of both unrestricted funds, which can be designated to the School’s highest need, and named funds.
Financial Assistance 51%
Curriculum & Program 16%
Faculty & Staff Support 10%
Endowment for the Education of Quaker Children 3%
Currently, Friends Seminary has
Financial Aid Budget
received tuition assistance
with a median award of
The endowment plays a role in enabling the Board of Trustees to achieve its aim to increase the financial aid budget to the level where it represents 17% of gross tuition revenue, which it is on track to achieve 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.
Sheri Powers ’79 Scholarship Fund for African American Students of Promise
In 1973, Sheri Powers '79 first walked through the Friends Seminary doors as a seventh grader. Coming from public school in Brooklyn, Friends was a very different environment for her; it was also one that she had been hoping for. Sheri grew up being told “you can do anything you want to do as long as you put your mind to it,” and was encouraged to read and explore as much as she could from a very young age. Always one to fight for herself and the underdog, Sheri spent her early years often in conflict with other kids on the block, trying to find and defend her place, and the place of others.
So when Sheri visited Friends in the spring of 1973, she immediately felt at home. She remembers setting her eyes on the Library nestled in between the second and third floors off the stairwell like a secret passage way to adventure and saying out loud, “wow, mom, can I go to school here?” Her first year at Friends set the tone for the rest of her time on 16th Street. Citing the warm reception and encouragement of her teachers, Sheri still remembers how powerful it was to experience a year in which she didn’t have to fight for herself, or for someone else. The peace of that year allowed her to explore who she was and find her place in the community. At the end of the year, during which she had been struggling in math, her teacher called her into the hallway after their final exam. Expecting to be reprimanded, she was once again filled with awe to be told, not only had she passed, but she scored 97 out of 100 points on that math exam! “I am so proud of you,” he said. Sheri still remembers that moment vividly. She had found a place where she could not only belong, but also thrive.
After college and graduate school, Sheri became a lawyer, spending 13 years litigating sexual harassment and racial discrimination law. In 1996, she won a major racial discrimination lawsuit, which resulted in a $7.6 million plaintiffs’ jury award. After such a meaningful experience at Friends which she credited with encouraging her to think broadly, learn eagerly, and ask questions without being afraid of the answers, Sheri wanted to give back. “I was able to attend Friends because of the generosity of others who gave to the School’s scholarship funds, and I wanted other kids like me to have that same experience,” she explained. “Friends was the best education I’ve ever had, and I have had a lot of education!”
Sheri took part of her earnings from that race discrimination lawsuit and established the Sheri Powers ’79 Scholarship Fund for African American Students of Promise. “I want as many young Black kids as possible to have this experience. To feel the supportive environment that I did. To be taught to think for oneself and get out of one’s own way. I want these kids to know that anything is possible.”
Now living in Oakland, CA, Sheri has worked as a civil rights attorney, a marriage and family therapist, a mortgage loan originator for first-time homebuyers, and a real estate broker. Sheri currently works for the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation as the Director of Financial Empowerment and HUD Housing Counseling Programs. With every career turn she’s made, Sheri has continued to fight for the underdog, just as she has done since she was a young girl. “Friends Seminary helped shape me into who I am today. I don’t know where I would be now if not for Friends. I am truly blessed and highly favored, and knowing that to be true for me, I know it to be true for all of us. My life’s passion is to help others recognize their blessing, and to use it to become the best possible version of themselves they can be.”