This site was created to foster knowledge and communication among advancement professionals, development and marketing directors, business and enrollment managers, pastors and principals, and all those who have a burning desire to help Catholic, Christian and Faith-based schools advance toward their vision in the 21st century.

In the years following the Second Vatican Council, a myriad of both internal and external forces began to impact Catholic schools.  Most notably, changes began to take place in the make-up of the family, the building block of any society.  Consequently, a new generation began to take shape which has come to be known as Generation X – the first generation that has made the realization that their lifestyle experience may not necessarily be better than previous generations.  Because of that realization, they have been referenced as “The ‘Me’ Generation.”  Members of that generation comprise the majority of today’s parents of school-age children.

As the years have progressed, the next generation of young parents, the Millennials, are enrolling their children in faith-based schools.  These men and women are more about “we” than “me,” and demonstrate that mindset in their use of social media, the Internet and valuing “experiences” over sacrifice.

An additional factor affecting Catholic schools is also different at this point in history than it was when Catholic schools began in this country.  At their inception, their mission was to help immigrant children participate in American culture while nourishing their own cultural heritage, reinforcing their Catholic faith and avoiding the discrimination present in public schools at the time.  Now, Catholic schools educate children in an environment where God and matters of faith can be discussed openly, forming young men and women that are “counter-cultural” to secular values of today’s American society.

At this time in history, fatih-based schools have closed or merged due to rising costs and changing demographics. Schools simply cannot rely on traditional fiscal approaches to fund their ministries. Conversely, some areas of the country have experienced growing populations, producing a desire for additional faith-based schools. Some of those populations do not have the financial means to pay for large construction projects, and growing communities are put in the same financial conundrum as those that are shrinking.

While school leaders grapple with the changes they’re facing, a paradigm has begun to take shape. Isolated successes have been experienced in some areas of the country, while other dioceses, deaneries, parishes and their respective schools, as well as Christian and other faith-based schools, strategize to plan for the future. Rather than continuing to “reinvent the wheel,” this site’s goal is to provide guidance gleaned from schools which have seen successes, accepting responsibility for achieving not just excellence, but sustainability.  In a spirit of community, SchoolAdvancement shares “next” practices, proven strategies, failed experiments and suggestions regarding what to avoid along the path, and, interestingly, how some small “shifts” can have a significant positive impact on the future of a school.

Though the curriculum of various faith-based schools may be different, the five elements of Advancement (Asset Management, Retention, Marketing, Enrollment and Development) – the “business” side of the mission – are essential for every school’s success.

You may have visited this site before and have seen these elements listed as “The DREAM Framework.”  Unfortunately, it seems that people still see dreams as unattainable.  Therefore, some significant prayer, thought, and counsel took place, resulting in realizing the need for a school to be prepared for the challenges it will face, much like the way our schools prepare students for their future.  To be prepared is to be armed with the tools necessary to carry out your mission, advancing your school toward the vision you have for it.

While some school leaders hold fast to the thought that “It’s all about the money,” others have begun to emerge that say “It’s all about enrollment.” Actually, “It’s all about all of it.”  Your school’s customers will evaluate “the experience” of your school based on their expectations of excellence.

It serves us well to recall the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”

SchoolAdvancement is ready.  Is your school ready to truly experience excellence?