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. If you are interested in donating to an existing endowment fund, please visit our endowment giving page. WIS’s minimum to establish a named endowed fund is $100,000. Contact Associate Director of Advancement Gerad Teague at 202.283.1816 or email@example.com to learn more.
As of June 30, 2021, the WIS endowment stands at $8,426,547, and is composed of funds in the following categories:
Program funds support a diverse array of initiatives at WIS, including but not limited to: service and learning exchange opportunities, social justice and equity projects, professional development for teachers and staff, climate and environmental studies, and residency programs.
Financial Aid Funds
Financial Aid funds supplement WIS’s annual financial aid budget, allowing the School to provide larger awards to a greater number of deserving families. WIS’s financial aid budget for FY2021-22 was $4.25 million, which provided 136 students with an average grant of $31,509.
Unrestricted & Quasi Endowment Funds
Unrestricted endowment funds can be used at the School’s discretion to support areas of greatest need. However, to promote endowment growth, 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 more than $8.4 million today. However, it remains small relative to other schools in WIS's cohort. Building a robust endowment will provide 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.
Over the next five years, WIS aims to double its Financial Aid endowment from $3 million to $6 million, which would grow the total endowment from $8.4 million today to about $11.5 million by 2026. At WIS, we believe access to a first-rate education should not be limited by a family’s ability to pay. The School is committed to increasing both accessibility and socioeconomic diversity—a key strength of the WIS community—through expanding its financial aid resources.
Due to COVID-19 and related uncertainty in the financial markets, WIS did not take an endowment distribution in 2019-20 or 2020-21. Investment income over this period was reinvested back into the endowment. Going forward, we expect a return to regular endowment activity and reporting in 2021-22.
Despite the challenging circumstances of the past two years, WIS has continued to make exciting strides in this area, with the creation of several new funds and initiatives.
The Mara Wilson Fund
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the national reckoning that followed, the students of the Class of 2020 felt compelled to act. As part of their activism, the group dedicated their senior class gift to the memory of Mara Wilson, a beloved WIS Middle School Art and Design Technology Teacher and artist, by creating the Mara Wilson Fund.
As an educator, Ms. Wilson encouraged students to learn more about DC, the systemic social and racial inequalities in the city, and life beyond the walls of WIS. Mara led through creativity and innovation, and inspired students and colleagues to think and act with empathy. The Mara Wilson Fund seeks to advance Ms. Wilson’s commitment to empathy, equity, and justice by instilling these values throughout the WIS community. Through the Class of 2020’s gift and support from other generous donors, the Fund was fully capitalized in the spring of 2021.
The Mara Wilson Fund supports initiatives at WIS that increase awareness of racial inequities; instills a culture that directly challenges and denounces racism; and cultivates a school environment where individuals of color feel safe and confident, and where all community members are equipped to recognize racism and racial insensitivity and feel compelled to take action against it. Currently, the Fund supports IDI (international-mindedness, diversity, and inclusion) programs and activities at WIS critical to fostering an inclusive learning and working environment.
(WIS’s IDI programs cover five key areas: hiring, curriculum development, school culture, inclusivity, and professional development for faculty and staff. Please see our Diversity page for more information on IDI at WIS and the IDI audit performed in the spring of 2021 by Dr. Philip McAdoo.)
At the start of the 2021-22 school year, the Mara Wilson Fund helped support a faculty and staff IDI training session conducted by Welcoming Schools, a professional development program created by the Human Rights Campaign that trains educators to create LGBTQ+, gender, and racially inclusive schools. The course, entitled “Intersectionality,” focused on how teachers and schools can foster a more equitable and inclusive approach to serving students through incorporating an intersectional framework into their practice. Teachers examined the impact of identity, bias, and power in the classroom, school, and wider community and discussed how to include intersectional considerations of identity while shaping curricula, teaching practices, and school policies. By interrogating the complexities of bias and identity, educators may better serve marginalized groups and build more equitable learning communities.
The Mara Wilson Fund also supported the creation and development of IDI policies at WIS. Among these new policies is the Gender Inclusion policy, which outlines the School’s support plans for LGBTQ+ students, including transgender, nonbinary, and gender fluid students. The Gender Inclusion policy was designed to promote an inclusive, welcoming, and supportive learning environment where all students feel safe, seen, and can thrive each day. As outlined in the policy, WIS will incorporate gender diversity and LGBTQ+ education into its curriculum, anti-bullying, and non-discrimination programing, and faculty and staff professional development. (The full Gender Inclusion policy is published in the Community Handbook.)
WIS strives to improve every day and is firmly committed to fostering a community whose members stand up to injustice and advocate for equity and inclusion both in and outside of WIS. Going forward, the Mara Wilson Fund will continue to underwrite IDI initiatives and expand its reach as WIS develops new IDI programs and activities.
The Hill Memorial Fund
Founded in the summer of 2021, the Hill Memorial Fund honors the life and memory of Althea Hill, whose academic achievements would not have been possible without the generosity of others. The Fund was established in 2021 by her son Nicholas Hill and his wife Melissa Conradi Hill and will support a determined Upper School student eligible for Financial Aid beginning in the 2021-22 school year.
In line with the School’s 2020 Strategic Plan, which can be found here, the Hill Memorial Fund will help actualize the School’s goal of expanding access to WIS to a greater number of qualified students each year.
The Community Equity and Justice Award
The Community Equity and Justice Award (CEJA) was established by a Class of 2020 family to support social justice and equity activities at WIS. Each fall, Upper School community members are invited to apply for the award, which supports projects that militate against persistent injustices and inequities in the Washington, DC area. Applicants are particularly encouraged to pitch projects that establish or strengthen partnerships with local frontline groups and foster an ethos of community collaboration.
In the 2020-21 school year, two CEJA grants were awarded. A group of five WIS seniors led the first project. The students used their award to support their work on an initiative titled Network, Exchange, Train (NExT), which aimed to improve student experiences at predominantly white institutions by training students to holistically collect, evaluate, and report data on levels of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at independent schools. The students partnered with students at an Independent School in Philadelphia to develop frameworks and tools to evaluate levels of D&I at other independent schools. Through training students at WIS and other independent schools to evaluate and report student perceptions of D&I at their schools, the project sought to give students the agency and tools to generate social change and accountability at learning institutions.
In addition to learning crucial skills around collaboration and communication, the students were able to experience the power of their agency to design impactful projects that grow from student voices and can effect lasting change.
The second CEJA grant was awarded to a WIS student who pursued her volunteer work with Reading Partners DC (RPDC), a literacy project that works with low-income DC public schools to provide individual tutoring for students. After observing that many students across DC lost direct access to literacy materials as a result of the pandemic, the student created 20 fun and enriching reading care packages for students. Together with RPDC, the student distributed the packages to students in the elementary school where she had tutored. This CEJA awardee was able to support local DC students during a difficult school year while strengthening her relationships with RPDC. Going forward, the student hopes that WIS’s relationship with Reading Partners, anchored by the RPDC student club, will remain strong.