Bryan Garman remembers the day, last spring, when Wilmington Friends School received a special gift. Garman, the head of school, had been visiting the lower school campus and came to his office mid-morning. As he arrived, he remembered that his assistant called the development director and said, “All right—he’s here.”
He learned that the school had just received a $2 million scholarship endowment from the Malone Family Foundation through its Malone Scholars Program. Wilmington Friends is the first school in Delaware and the first Quaker school in the nation to receive the endowment.
“We’re very excited,” said Garman. “This is a great honor.”
Independent schools rarely receive gifts of this size from national foundations, said Kate Doub, senior consultant and principal for Marts & Lundy, and campaign counsel for Wilmington Friends.
“It is a stunning gift,” she said. “These awards are not given out lightly. It says a lot about the school and the quality of their academic program.”
Each year, the Malone Family Foundation provides the sizable endowments to a small number of independent schools. The schools then create scholarship funds that specifically target gifted students with financial needs.
Dr. John C. Malone, a noted communications and media executive and investor, created the foundation with his family in 1997 with the goal of helping high achieving students develop to their potential. The first Malone Scholar Program endowment grants were awarded in 2000. The foundation also provided the start-up funds for EPGY, Stanford’s online high school for exceptional students. Dr. Malone, who grew up in a family of modest means, attended a private secondary school and Yale with the support of scholarships.
“He believes that independent schools change lives,” said Garman.
The foundation hopes to reach students in every state with its scholarship program. Schools submit proposals by invitation only. Those named as finalists undergo a rigorous selection process, including on-site visits by the Malone staff.
“The foundation is very particular about the schools they choose and they spend a great deal of time studying all aspects of a school’s program,” said Kathy Hopkins, the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid for Wilmington Friends. “To me, it speaks volumes that they have chosen our school. They clearly value the program we offer and the community that we have created here.”
Wilmington Friends serves 793 students, from preschool to grade 12. Local Quakers founded the school in 1748 to serve the children of the neighborhood—boys and girls, regardless of their race, religion, or their families’ ability to pay. The school, one of the oldest in the country, offers a challenging, global curriculum. Wilmington Friends is an authorized International Baccalaureate (I.B.) World School—the first in Delaware—and also a member of the School Year Abroad program. Students are regularly accepted into Ivy League and other top universities. Class sizes are small—averaging 16 students per class—allowing teachers to focus on the individual students.
For instance, students have the opportunity to undertake one or more independent study projects through the school’s Mastery Program. The projects are not graded, but allow students to explore a great variety of their personal interests with faculty support.
“Our faculty does a wonderful job of encouraging student interests and talents,” said Garman. “For an independent study, one of our students built a computer. Others completed courses offered through the M.I.T. Open Courseware Project. We also had three seniors who wrote, directed, and performed an original play.”
In keeping with the Quaker tradition of community responsibility, students are expected to use their talents and education to make the world a better place.
“It’s a very caring place,” said Doub. “They grow socially responsible students.”
Part of the school’s commitment to social responsibility is its financial aid program, which has been in place for over 250 years. Collections taken up at Friends’ meetings created the school’s first scholarships.
Today, the school has an endowment of $21 million (including the Malone funds) and provides over $2 million in assistance each year. Tuition ranges from $6,150 to $11,500 for preschool to $22,475 for high school. About 27% of the students receive some form of financial aid.
Hopkins is looking forward to welcoming the first Malone Scholar this fall. Eventually, the school will offer one Malone scholarship per grade, for students in grades 7 to 12.
Providing financial assistance to families “is the most rewarding part of my job,” she said.
She remembered one student who almost had to leave the school due to financial hardship. Her mother had lost her job, and had some other issues. With her grandmother’s help, the student filled out the paperwork for additional financial aid.
“We were able to keep her enrolled and she went on to distinguish herself in college and graduate school. Due to her family circumstances, we know the aid we offered made all the difference in the world,” she said.
Garman knows first-hand the kind of opportunities that the Malone Scholars Program opens up for students.
“I was a scholarship student… so I’m very invested in it at a personal level,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine any type of giving that could be more valuable than the gift of education.”
Congratulations to Wilmington Friends School
Marts & Lundy congratulates Wilmington Friends School on receiving a $2 million scholarship endowment from the Malone Scholars Program. Only 31 schools in the nation have received this prestigious award.
Wilmington Friends is the fourth Marts & Lundy client to receive a Malone endowment. Others selected for the program are the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif. in 2003; the Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Ore. in 2005; and the Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Mo. in 2007.
“It’s a great program. We feel so lucky and very honored to be chosen,” said Carolyn Sullivan, Assistant Head of School of Pembroke Hill.
Students selected for the scholarship can receive between 30%-100% of their tuition and fees. To date, Chadwick School has selected 14 Malone Scholars.
Catlin Gabel has awarded 17 Malone scholarships, including five that will begin this fall.
Pembroke Hill has given out five Malone scholarships, with one more planned for fall 2011. The school’s first three Malone Scholars, selected for the 2008-2009 school year, will be seniors this fall. Sullivan is looking forward to following them through the college application process.
“They are very bright, very involved…just wonderful young people,” she said.