West Catholic High School received a $1 million gift, the largest in the school’s 96-year history, to fund the newly adopted five-year strategic plan, A Commitment to Mission.
News of the school’s closure during the winter of 2012 prompted the donors to reach out to school leaders to offer support for the school. The donors met with Brother Richard Kestler, FSC, newly announced President of West Catholic, to discuss his plans for the school. They knew from his prior success at West Catholic and his dedication to the school’s renewal that he was the right man for the job. Rather than make a quick infusion of cash, the donors challenged the leadership at West Catholic to develop a five-year plan for the school.
In July 2012, Brother Richard established a new Board of Trustees, Chaired by Mr. Al Gabriele, which would be charged with leading the creation of the plan. After six-months of reflection, discussion and debate involving all West Catholic constituents, the Board of Trustees officially adapted A Commitment to Mission in February of 2013.
A Commitment to Mission includes strategic goals in ten areas: enrollment, financial management, governance, curriculum, technology, student life, guidance, catholic identity, institutional advancement, and facilities. Some highlights of the plan include West Catholic being financially self-sustaining by 2015, improving student academic performance, expanding outreach to elementary schools beyond traditional boundaries, aligning curriculum and technology goals, establishing an endowment, implementing a building retro-fit strategy, and a commitment to providing a faith formation based on Gospel values rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition.
According to Brother Richard Kestler, “this Plan gives both vision and metrics to guide the administration, staff, students and parents in a path that leads to success. The results of the current year give reason for positive optimism but do not eliminate the hard work that still lies ahead if we are to accomplish all that our five-year plan projects. With the support of our more than 24,000 graduates, West Catholic will again be among the premier schools of the Delaware Valley.”
With the successful start of A Commitment to Mission’s implementation, the donors, who wish to remain anonymous, have released their million dollar gift. They challenge all graduates and friends of West Catholic to become active participants in the revival. “The energy is great, the students are excited, the faculty is reenergized, and the administration is focused on organization renewal and outreach to stakeholders. Our goal as donors is for West Catholic to continue as a strong academic school, anchored in West Philly, providing hope for all our students. To do that, we will need to have the help of others who share our belief in the school’s mission to serve the poor and disadvantaged.”
In September, West Catholic will open its doors to nearly two hundred returning students and 145 freshmen. The new ninth grade class is triple the previous year’s amount, and the most since 2007-08. Including this gift, the school has received $2,000,000 in total during the 2012-13 fiscal year, which is also the most in the school’s 96-year history outside of capital campaigns.