As fundraiser nears goal, renovation yet to begin

Burke’s ongoing capital campaign is nearing its fundraising goal. In 2018, Burke’s 50th year, Head of School Damian Jones announced the Stand With Burke Campaign. The campaign is dedicated to raising a total of $6 million, 4 million of which would be going to a complete renovation of Hobbes (the old building) with the remaining 2 million going towards benefitting faculty and staff salaries and financial aid.

As of December 31st, 2019, the campaign had raised $5.5 million. “December 31st is a really big time of year that people make their gifts,” said Jennifer Rawlings, Director of Development and Alumni Relations. “We’re feeling really good about that. It feels like the end is in sight and achievable, but it is harder at this point.” She explained, “You go for the biggest gifts you can at the beginning. Now we’re raising smaller than we were initially asking for. That last 500,000 is gonna come in smaller increments and it’s gonna come a little slower.”

The money has been coming from various places in the school community. The majority comes from current parents, but almost $2 million has come from past parents. “I think that’s really different about Burke, that past families are giving at such a high level,” Rawlings said. “We’ve even had a sliver come from our alumni. We’re not coaching these kids [to donate], that’s not how we run the school, but it’s just a super special thing that people are willing to donate to things they or their kids will never benefit from.”

While official progress stands at $5.5 million, not all of that money is usable now. Some people made pledges that they would donate certain amounts of money throughout the next couple of years. With that in mind, construction isn’t intended to start until 2022. “We began the campaign with a shared understanding of the way we wanted to manage the construction.” Jones said, “Until this project is fully paid for, [we won’t start building].”

Jones also said that in preparation for the bigger construction plans for the basement, the school has been incrementally renovating classrooms and offices over the past couple of years.

The rest of the money is going towards enhancing faculty salaries, professional development and financial aid. “Being an independent school is cost prohibitive,” Jones said. “$40,000+ tuition means that some people can’t afford to come here, and we need to ensure that we have access to the financial resources to make it possible for them not only to come here, but to stay here.”

Rawlings expressed optimism that the campaign would reach completion soon, saying, “We’re in the last year of campaigning, and so our goal is to, by the summer, have raised six million dollars total in cash and pledges.”