Endowments at WIS
Investing in Current and Future Generations
The WIS endowment plays an important role in promoting financial stability and sustainability at WIS. In the near term, the endowment delivers critical budget support for current students, while simultaneously serving as a vehicle for long-term growth to ensure the School will be well equipped to address future priorities and needs.
Interested donors can donate to existing funds, or establish a named fund as part of the WIS endowment, at any time. Our minimum to establish a named endowed fund is $100,000. Contact Assistant Director of Advancement Systems & Donor Services, Gerad Teague, at 202.283.1816 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
As of June 30, 2018, the WIS endowment stands at $6,149,256, and is composed of funds in the following categories:
Programmatic funds support a diverse array of initiatives at WIS, including but not limited to service and learning exchange opportunities, professional development for teachers and staff, climate and environmental studies, and residency programs.
Scholarship funds supplement our annual budget for financial aid, allowing WIS flexibility to provide larger awards to a greater number of deserving families. WIS’s financial aid budget for FY2018-19 is $3.5 million, which provides more than 100 students with average grants of $29,500.
Unrestricted & Quasi Endowment Funds
Unrestricted endowment funds can be used at the School’s discretion to support areas of greatest need. However, to promote expeditious growth and sustainability of the WIS endowment, income from unrestricted funds is currently being reinvested as a permanent addition to the endowment’s principal.
The WIS endowment has grown from around $30,000 in 2003 to nearly $7 million today. However, it remains small relative to other schools in WIS's cohort. Building a robust endowment will provide an important financial wellspring for the School, adding additional resources for critical investments in the best faculty and staff, a talented and diverse student body, cutting-edge facilities and technology, professional development and training for teachers and staff, service and learning opportunities, and much more.
2018-2019 Program Funds Highlights
The Blutinger Family Fund
Established in 2007, the Blutinger Family Fund for Climate Change and Environmental Studies underwrites environmental programming at WIS and reflects the Blutinger family’s steadfast dedication to ensuring every WIS student has a deep understanding of climate change and the environment through the related fields of biology, chemistry, and physics.
Nowhere at WIS is the focus on environmental education more evident than in Trish Beck’s Upper School Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) course. In December 2018, ESS hosted Alexander von Bismarck, Executive Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), who presented his organization’s groundbreaking work in exposing environmental bad actors and practices. Von Bismarck related EIA’s strategy of engaging in undercover investigations to capture evidence—specifically video evidence— of illicit activities. The benefits of this approach, he argued, are two-fold: evidence-based campaigns are a “mission amplifier,” allowing a small organization with a limited budget to have an outsized impact, and they prevent actors from rationalizing away wrongdoing.
Von Bismarck spoke at length about EIA’s pioneering efforts, including undercover investigations in a Dubai ivory processing warehouse that led to the 1989 ivory ban, efforts to expose illegal mahogany logging in Honduras in the 1990s, and a campaign over the past decade to stop illicit rosewood and ebony harvesting in Madagascar’s national parks. In doing so, he demonstrated how public backlash was instrumental in changing corporate behavior and driving policy change: for example, EIA’s seminal 2013 report “Liquidating the Forests” detailed Lumber Liquidators’ illegal sourcing practices, and led the U.S. Department of Justice in 2015 to prosecute the firm under the Lacey Act, the first time in the Act’s 115 year existence that a corporation has been found guilty of a felony for smuggling timber.
The Harper-Schuchat Memorial Fund
The Louise Harper-Schuchat Memorial Fund was created in 2005 by Louise’s family, friends, and colleagues. The Fund is intended to honor her memory by providing support for service and learning trips at WIS, where Louise taught for 16 years. In 2018-19, the Fund provided support for a number of experiential learning activities, including a 2019 student trip where 16 Grade 10 and 11 students embarked on an eight-day journey to Morocco.
The students spent the majority of their trip in Azrou, a city of around 80,000 nestled in the Atlas Mountains. During their visit, students volunteered for four hours each morning at a local elementary school as part of a partnership with Squads Abroad, an NGO that organizes volunteer-led global health and education programs in accordance with local customs and needs. This effort focused on three areas: (1) library renovation, (2) digital literacy, and (3) hygiene and nutrition. Local families who were determined to build a library at the school had already raised funds and secured a dedicated structure for this purpose. Students worked with a local carpenter and artisan to build shelving and paint the interior space. To support digital literacy, WIS donated eight laptops and taught students and teachers typing and other basic functions. Finally, WIS students taught handwashing, dental hygiene, nutrition, and exercise.
In the evenings, students took classes in Arabic and Islam, learned about the Moroccan government and economy, and examined the education and health systems. There were also cultural outings, including day trips to Fez, camel riding in the desert, morning markets, and a visit to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, the largest of its kind in Morocco and third-largest in the world. For one participant, time spent in Azrou was the most meaningful part of the trip: “I was so impacted by every one of the children there and wouldn’t exchange the experience for the world.”
2018-2019 Scholarship Funds Highlight
WIS’s scholarship funds play a pivotal role in supporting the School’s financial aid budget. To get a sense of the profound impact aid has on our families, we spoke to Janet, whose daughter Olivia spent 14 years at WIS before graduating with the Class of 2015. Janet told us that without financial aid, she never would have been able to send Olivia to WIS. After graduation, Olivia matriculated at Connecticut College, where she was an international relations and French double major and anthropology minor. At Connecticut, Olivia was a member of the Student Refugee Alliance Club and the Eclipse and Women’s Empowerment Initiative. Olivia also served as a senior admissions fellow and worked at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Child Development Center.
Between her junior and senior years, Olivia studied abroad in Morocco and completed an internship with the Foundation Orient-Occident in Rabat. In April 2019, Olivia was selected to receive a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant for an English Teaching Assistantship in Cote D’Ivoire, where she is currently putting her language proficiency to use. After the fellowship concludes, Olivia plans to pursue a master’s degree from the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Janet spoke at length about their family’s experience, sharing that Olivia’s formative years at WIS “made all the difference.” She explained that at WIS “[Olivia] learned community, resiliency. . .She learned how to take appropriate risks; she learned how to enter in, how to make the most of opportunities that present themselves. She is unafraid of life.” When asked if there was any particular message we could convey, she responded simply: “make them feel the gratitude I feel.” Janet’s story is one of many examples of the transformative power of financial aid, which at WIS supported 121 students with an average grant of $31,225 in the 2019–20 academic year.