A Letter From the SMES Annual Fund Co-Chair
"SMES has been so great to me. They have showed me what I need to succeed in life. SMES has guided me in the right direction for almost nine years. I have been coming here since I was in Kindergarten, which seems like yesterday. This is my last year, and so far, it has been the greatest yet. Thank you SMES. I will never forget you!”
Today as I walk around St. Matthew’s Episcopal School, I see and hear a vibrant, caring learning community. I hear the sounds of children’s voices ringing through Alexander Hall during chapel. I hear children laughing and see them holding hands on the playground. I see teachers greeting children in the morning with hugs and smiles, and I hear little voices calling out “Mr. M” as he makes his way across the playground. This is St. Matthew’s Episcopal School to me today, but as a child I watched this school grow from the back door of my home. My relationship with St. Matthew's Episcopal School began in the early 1960s when I attended Kindergarten. I remember my teacher, Margaret Odom, and how she nurtured and guided us. From the seed she planted, I went on to graduate from high school, earn a Bachelor’s degree from LSU, and a Master's degree from LSU Medical Center. The seed planted at St. Matthew's gave me the tools I needed to grow because I was nurtured. As a mother I saw my three boys skip off to school through the back fence and watched my 7th grader joyously hop on a plane headed to Alexandria, Virginia for his 7th grade trip. I see St. Matthew’s Episcopal School as providing the academic, social, and spiritual foundation for its students to go on to become successful teens and adults. Our graduates have become doctors, lawyers, pilots, musicians, accountants, teachers, artists, businessmen and women, mothers, and fathers. This school has become a mission to me, as well as to my family. I love this place and what it has offered – and continues to offer – to the children who enter its doors.
As our work continues, we use St. Matthew’s Annual Fund to “make a change for St. Matthew’s.” The Annual Fund provides an avenue for the school community to fulfill our mission of “nurturing mind, heart, and soul in a Christian environment.” We are able to continue to enhance and grow our curriculum, keep up with today’s and tomorrow’s technology, provide faculty salaries and professional development, as well as advance and develop our campus.
Your continued support makes a difference in growing our school by helping us provide a nurturing Christian environment that encourages academic excellence and personal creativity. Our graduates become socially conscious and responsible individuals equipped to reach their highest potential in an ever-changing world.
Please join me in supporting St. Matthew’s Annual Fund so the work can continue to enhance the education of your child and others, so that one day you too can share what St. Matthew’s Episcopal School means to you and has meant to your child. Every gift counts, and every gift benefits our students.
Susan Baker Niette
School Board President
Annual Fund FAQ
1. What is the Annual Fund?
The Annual Fund is a yearly fundraising initiative that provides vital support to St. Matthew’s current operating budget. An independent school relies upon the generosity of its constituents to provide an exceptional program and environment for its students. Many of the enhancements and "extras" provided at our school are a result of each year's Annual Fund.
2. How are contributions used?
Annual Fund gifts are unrestricted, so they can be used where they are needed the most. Every dollar given to the Annual Fund is used immediately to maintain excellence, by meeting the school's most important needs and opportunities, including new and ongoing programs in the classroom, and other initiatives. Your gift directly impacts our students today!
• Small class size
• Curriculum upgrades
• Faculty salaries and professional development
• Technology in every classroom
• Upgrades and maintenance of our campus
3. Why is it important to participate?
A robust Annual Fund ensures the best possible programs, facility, and faculty for the students. The Annual Fund is the foundation of all fundraising at SMES, and the level of participation by parents is an important factor in expanding learning opportunities for students. Each family who gives takes ownership in St. Matthew's and is doing its part in realizing the vision of SMES. Full participation makes a powerful statement to the larger community -including individual outside donors and charitable foundations that look for strong support within the schools they choose to support.
4. Do all SMES families participate?
Our students donated almost $1,000 last year to the campaign through Penny Wars! We celebrated 100% grade level participation. 100% of the Faculty, Staff, and Board of Trustees pledged support or made contributions before the official kick-off of the campaign. Many of our faculty did so by means of payroll deduction, which speaks volumes about their deep commitment to our children and the mission of SMES. The school relies on the generosity of its alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends to ensure that students receive the quality academic experiences they deserve.
5. How much should I give?
Gifts to the Annual Fund can range from fifteen dollars to thousands of dollars. Large gifts are wonderful, but smaller gifts add up. Although we ask that each family give as much as possible, a high percentage of parent participation is also critical. We encourage every family to participate, and we hope you will participate at a level that is personally meaningful to you. Remember that your gift, along with others, directly enhances your child's education. Please prayerfully consider your financial support of the Annual Fund. The only gift that is too small is no gift at all.
6. Why not just set tuition high enough to cover expenses?
As an independent school, St. Matthew’s meets our budgetary needs from tuition, gifts, and fundraising. Charitable gifts supplement our operating budget and help provide financial stability and the resources necessary for an optimal educational environment. Gifts to the Annual Fund are unrestricted and allow the school to use the funds in the area of most need during the school year. In fact, the school spends about $1,800 more educating each student than that family pays in tuition. The St. Matthew's Annual Fund helps us bridge that “Excellence Gap.” Tuition and fees cover only a portion of the cost of educating a student for one school year; this means a significant amount of the school budget must be made up each year through the Annual Fund and other fundraising efforts. St. Matthew’s is a non-profit organization, and while the School is associated with the Church, the two are separate financial entities. Funds are not shared.
We have chosen not to set tuition high enough to cover all expenses for three reasons:
Higher tuition might exclude some students. Diversity is important, and we want to make SMES available to as many families as possible, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
Each family is asked to give at a level at which they are comfortable.
Contributions to the Annual Fund are tax-deductible.
7. Should I give a larger gift if I have more than one child at SMES?
The St. Matthew's Annual Fund helps us bridge that “Excellence Gap.” Tuition and fees cover only a portion of the cost of educating a student for one school year. If your second child were not at SMES, his/her place would be occupied by a child whose parents presumably would make a contribution equal to yours for their one child, providing the financial support needed for each child.
8. Are there tax benefits available when I give to SMES?
Yes, there are! St. Matthew’s Episcopal School is a registered 501(c)3 organization and charitable gifts are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
9. How long do I have to pay my pledge to the SMES Annual Fund?
Families are encouraged to make their pledges as soon as possible, but we prefer to receive all payments by May 1st. When you make your contribution, you will be sent an official receipt that you may use for your tax deduction calculations in the tax year your payment was made.
10. I would like to keep my donation confidential. Is that possible?
Yes, simply let us know. We also welcome donations in honor or memory of others.
11. What about matching gifts?
Many companies match employee contributions to non-profit organizations such as St. Matthew’s Episcopal School. We encourage donors to check with their employers to see if this plan is available for them. The SMES EIN number is 72-0571489.
Our Annual Fund kicked off in November. This year we again included an opportunity for our students to participate. Last year's campaign generated much enthusiasm for a fund that directly impacts and supports the campus resources for our students and school. Students were encouraged to Make a “Change” for St. Matthew’s by donating change to our Annual Giving campaign. The goal for the student contributions is that the children will find ways to earn change to donate rather than just ask for it. Some ideas might be to do an extra chore or two at home or maybe even finding a few spare coins in their piggy bank. Our students donated almost $1,000 this year to the campaign through Penny Wars! Thank you to our wonderful students for your support!read more