Grymes 20/20: A Vision for our Future

January 13, 2017

Grymes 20/20: A Vision for our Future

Grymes has front page news to share with the world, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be featured on the front page of this week’s Orange Review!

20/20 Vision at Grymes

By Amber Galaviz
Orange County Review
January 12, 2017         Vol. 86, No. 9
Click here to read the article online (or just keep reading below!)
Grymes Memorial School is seeking the community’s help to meet an anonymous donor’s commitment to match up to $3 million for the independent school by 2020. The school hopes to direct this dollar-for-dollar matching initiative to the endowment of faculty salaries and financial assistance, making the school available to more students and families.
Grymes Memorial School is a private, coeducational day-school offering programs from junior kindergarten through eighth grade. Founded in 1947, Grymes focuses on small class sizes, hands-on learning, integrating technology into learning and the arts, such as music, visual arts, drama and public speaking. With a student population of 160, Grymes students come from nine different counties to attend the school located on Spicers Mill Road in Orange County.
The school will have four years to raise $3 million as part of the initiative Grymes has entitled “Grymes 20/20: A Vision for our Future.”
“It’s an extraordinary opportunity for us,” Grymes Headmaster Penny Work said. “It’s really what you would call a transformational challenge, if not a transformational gift.”
An anonymous donor will match every dollar that Grymes raises up to $3 million for a total investment in Grymes of $6 million by the year 2020. These gifts can come in any form, whether through the Fund for Grymes, gifts to the endowment, gifts for capital improvements or planned giving through will bequests or even irrevocable trusts, Work added. The terms set by the anonymous donor means virtually any gift made to the school will be matched, Work said, calling the challenge both “remarkable” and “generous.”
“One of the things that is most exciting about this is that every dollar that anybody gives to the school is two dollars-it’s doubled,” Work said. “If you make a $25 gift to our annual fund, $25 is going to be matched in our endowment and so it’s really gotten people excited. We’ve seen a really nice increase in the gifts that people have given us and people are digging a little bit deeper because they know it’s going to be twice as nice.”
As of Dec. 12, Grymes had already raised $506,654 for a total investment of $1,013,309.
Chairman of Grymes Board of Trustees David Perdue said the school has grown to be what it is through its generous donors and community. Seventy years ago, Grymes was offered 32 acres from Mr. and Mrs. Woodberry Ober if the school’s board could raise $60,000 in six months. That goal was met and exceeded by the Grymes Board of Trustees, which has continued to raise money for improvements, enhancements and expansions ever since.
As with most independent schools, tuition alone can not sustain its operation, Perdue said and Grymes depends on multiple sources of revenue.
The hope for the school’s latest challenge is to sustain and potentially grow Grymes’ student population by retaining current families and making Grymes more accessible to a greater number of families who would be a good fit, explains a case statement released by the school.
“You can see we’re on a tight budget,” Perdue said. “Public schools have nicer facilities, but Grymes is about more than the facility. It’s about the education and teachers.”
Students at Grymes perform under a vigorous academic program, he said, however the school embraces childhood and a close-knit community.
“There’s a very broad mix in the student body and that’s important to us,” Perdue added. “It’s something we strive for and this gift will help us to maintain that type of economic diversity.”
More than half the students at Grymes receive some form of financial aid, Work said, noting the Grymes 20/20 initiative will help keep the school affordable. When salaries and costs increase, that means tuition increases, she said, but growing Grymes’ endowment through this gift will provide an outside source of revenue that will lower the reliance on tuition revenue and offset the costs of financial aid and faculty salaries.
“In a dream world we would turn no qualified student away,” Work said, noting the desire to expand merit and need-based aid programs for families who qualify.
The current tuition gap at Grymes is upwards of approximately $4,500 per student. Tuition assistance can be applied for and families can receive up to 50 percent off annual tuition costs if they qualify. It is gifts to the Fund for Grymes which makes the school able to bridge tuition gaps and sustain its programs, Director of Advancement at Grymes Hope Scibal said.
The challenge will allow Grymes to focus on things that are important to its community and are two of the school’s biggest budget expenditures-financial assistance and faculty salaries, Scibal said.
“Because affordability is a subjective term, Grymes defines affordability as it is perceived by our current families and prospective families who meet Grymes’ admission criteria,” the school’s statement reads. “Specifically, affordability relates to Grymes’ ability to provide an educational experience that is not only within these families’ means but that also delivers the value they expect.”
Grymes focuses not only on student development, but professional development for its faculty by sending faculty to conferences and encouraging their learning as well, Work said.
“One of our great goals is to make learning engaging, fun and joyful,” she added. “We’ve got a pretty happy bunch of teachers and kids. For teachers, not only are they teaching but they’re continuing to learn. I think a lot of people go into teaching because they can’t spend the rest of their lives in school, so the next best thing is to be a teacher. If you can be a teacher and continue to learn, that’s pretty wonderful.”
As an independent school, Grymes is not bound by government imposed standards or stricture, allowing it to offer a variety of programs and tweak its curriculum to respond to the challenges of 21st century education, Work added.
“If we can increase our endowment by at least $3 million, we’re talking about an additional $150,000 per year of revenue which will help because we have an enormous financial aid budget,” she said. “Instead of just discounting half a million off the top of our income for financial aid, it will supply funds so we can continue to do the programs that really distinguish us as a school.”
For more information on Grymes or to donate, visit https://www.grymesschool.org/.