One St. Paul's Fund Brings Unity in Giving
As director of college counseling for St. Paul’s School for Boys, Jake Talmage knows the critical importance of helping students find the right “fit” in their college choice. That’s why he and his team collectively make 30 to 40 visits to college campuses each year. “We work to get a feel for what makes each campus unique — Is it quirky? Sports-centered? Set in a true college town? — so that we can answer our students’ questions and provide the knowledge they need to build their college lists,” he says.
The funding that makes these travels possible comes from the St. Paul’s Fund, the boys’ school’s annual fundraising effort, which Talmage supports as the father of a ninth grader and has led as faculty chair. He and his wife also contribute to the Gator Fund, the annual fundraising effort that has provided critical support to St. Paul’s School for Girls, where their daughter is a senior this year. Last year, more than 2,000 donors made gifts large and small to contribute $2.3 million collectively to the Gator Fund and St. Paul’s Fund. Beginning this year, as part of The St. Paul’s Schools’ unification effort, the two separate annual fundraising efforts will become one.
“This new ‘One St. Paul’s Fund’ reflects our unity as a community and a family of schools,” says Kevin Sottak, vice president of advancement for The St. Paul’s Schools. “Many of our donors have multiple St. Paul’s connections. Maybe they started in the preschool or lower school and graduated from the boys’ or girls’ school. Or they have children currently enrolled at more than one school. They want to support opportunities for all of our students and teachers.” Andrea and Brian Rubin, parents of Ella ’24 and Madison ’27, see the wisdom of creating a single unified fund, and they are enthusiastic about what it will do to further enhance their daughters’ experience at St. Paul’s School for Girls.
“We’ve seen firsthand over the years how the annual fund provides for so many things — from state-of-the-art technology, to field trips, to extracurricular activities, to being able to attract and retain the very best teachers,” says Andrea. Adds Brian, “To us, it’s so important to give back to the community that has given our family so much.” Though the Gator Fund and St. Paul’s Funds have been retired, traditions such as Gator Day and the Laker-Crusader Challenge will continue, says Alden Reith, director of the One St. Paul’s Fund. “We also plan to create a new tradition for the Pre and Lower School students and families,” she notes.
Janine Golden, P ’13, ’16, ’22, served as Parents Association president for the boys’ school in 2017–2018 and was thrilled to be part of the planning and decision-making for the unification effort that began to unfold at that time. She and her husband, Phil, also served as the Annual Fund Parent chairs for 2019–20 and 2020–21, and as chairs of the SP Senior Parent Gift effort in 2015–16. “Combining the two annual funds into the One Fund just makes sense, and I am all for it,” says Golden, who has reprised her role as Parents Association president this year, in partnership with Missy Salihi Smith ’92 (SPSG, P ’21 ’24) and Tammey Holley (SPPL, P ’30 ’32). “Over the years, we have seen where the money goes — annual fund dollars helped make the Darrell Nature Pavilion a reality, for instance, and the funding also supports important programs such as the Oriel Learning Center, the many offerings in sports and the arts, and experiences to bond with peers and faculty while seeing something new in an off-campus trip.”
Moving to the One St. Paul’s Fund, says Sottak, will help ensure greater equity in the way resources are distributed across the campus. “We want to be sure each division is equally well served by the contributions that come in,” he says. “However, the goal is not to slice the existing pie differently, but to increase the total amount raised by encouraging greater participation and generosity. That’s how St. Paul’s will remain competitive.” Historically, most St. Paul’s donors have directed gifts toward “greatest need,” trusting the schools’ leaders to make wise decisions about where resources will have the greatest impact on programs. However, donors will continue to have the option to direct their contribution to a specific program priority or affiliated school. Talmage sees the practical benefits in moving to the One St. Paul’s Fund. “Instead of getting two different solicitations each year — one from the SPSG and one from the boys’ school — we’ll just be receiving one, which reduces mailing costs and is easier on the environment,” he says. More broadly, he sees the benefit of taking a more holistic approach to fundraising efforts and believes the timing couldn’t be better to move to a single unified fund. “Because of their interests, my upper school children frequently cross over between the two schools, and I see a lot of crossover among the juniors and seniors I work with through College Counseling,” he says. “We are all part of that larger community, and our donation to the One St. Paul’s Fund will serve all of our children, faculty, and staff, wherever they are.”