Acorn Fund FAQ's
St. Benedict’s Annual Acorn Fund Campaign is the school’s most important giving priority. Gifts to the Acorn Fund directly support St. Benedict’s unique educational model to provide a diverse and faith-based education with high standards of excellence. Gifts support all aspects of our school budget including but not limited to teacher professional development, technology, integrated Spanish curriculum, athletics, the arts and financial aid support. While tuition and fees cover most of the costs of educating students at St. Benedict’s, the Acorn Fund supports almost 3% of the school’s annual budget.
How will the Acorn Fund help us accomplish our strategic goals?
Your gifts to the Acorn Fund are helping to plant the seeds for future capital projects. Acorn Fund gifts support our school’s operational budget, and it is critical that we show strong support for the Acorn Fund from those closest to the school. When it is the right time to launch a capital campaign, outside constituents will ask some basic questions about the school’s track record of success. A successful annual fund will be one of those first questions asked by partners who want to ensure that our parents support the mission of the school.
What does the Acorn Fund pay for?
The Acorn Fund helps pay for everything that makes St. Benedict’s unique. As in all established independent schools, there is a gap between what is funded by tuition and fees and what it actually costs to educate our students. The amount of this gap varies by school, and for St. Benedict’s, we rely on the Acorn Fund to support approximately 3% of our school’s budget. These unrestricted annual fund gifts provide for professional development, technology, our integrated Spanish program, our enrichment programs and other creative approaches to learning.
This year, we have invested in some specific efforts that would not be possible without the success of the Acorn Fund. They include significant professional development for our teachers to integrate into curriculum and meet the needs of all our students; STEM games and Bit Coding Robots; technology such as iPads and Chromebooks, and additional classroom libraries.
We offer opportunities for parents, grandparents and the community to support specific projects at St. Benedict’s such as financial aid, capital upgrades and special programs. If a family is interested in making a restricted gift, they should contact the development staff to discuss. However, we want everyone to realize that our first and most important priority is fully supporting the Annual Acorn Fund.
Why can’t you just raise tuition to cover the difference?
St. Benedict’s has a long-standing tradition of aiming to be ‘affordable’ for a working family in Smyrna. While the term ‘affordable’ may be relative, we believe that any large increases in tuition may inhibit the retention and admission of the student body who represents the diverse learning environment that helps our students thrive.
Through tax-deductible donations to the Acorn Fund, we work to keep tuition more affordable and aim to provide financial aid to those in need.
What did the school raise in the 2018-19 school year?
Last year, the St. Benedict’s community was very generous. Gifts to the Acorn Fund ranged from $25 to $10,000 and parent participation was 80%. We raised approximately $195,000 from parents, grandparents, board members and staff. Faculty/Staff and Board participation was 100%.
What is our 2019-20 Goal?
Our 2019-20 Annual Acorn Fund has a participation goal and a financial goal. We seek 100% parent, board and faculty participation to raise $180,000 in financial support. As in all established independent schools, parent participation is critical and demonstrates the loyalty, commitment, and generous spirit of our school community. In order to meet last year’s participation, we must meet a minimum of 80% participation from the parent community, and we need to maintain our tradition of 100% participation from Faculty/Staff and board members.
How do I decide what amount to give?
There is not a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. We encourage everyone to give to the best of their ability. While participation is important, our total goal has increased this year, so we hope our parents and board members will consider an increased gift over last year as well.
How will the school recognize gifts?
We have put in place the following efforts to encourage full participation and to recognize gifts from our community..
Classroom incentives/wish lists. Each grade (if there are multiple classes in a grade, the teachers will come together) will submit a ‘classroom wish list’ totaling $1,500. For the grades who reach 80% participation, their teachers will be awarded with their wish list items for the classroom.
Carpool Signage: Just like in past years, there will be carpool signs that publicly announce the participation numbers for each grade at least every other week.
Donors will receive thank you notes with enclosed window decals
Window decals have been created so that donors can display them in a way that showcases consecutive giving year after year.
Email communication. Bi-Weekly emails will announce and recognize those grades who are on track or exceeding participation goals.
Sustained Giving. For parents who make a sustained, recurring monthly gifts that carry into each year, we will not ask them to give again and will recognize them each year as our ‘first’ givers.
What are the 2019-2020 Wish Lists?
One of our major goals of the Strategic Plan is to implement STEAM into our curriculum. STEAM is an integrated approach to learning which requires an intentional connection between standards, lesson design, implementation, and assessment that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math. Inquiry, collaboration, and an emphasis on process-based learning are at the heart of the STEAM approach. We are preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist, so it is imperative that we engage students in deeper learning through questioning, critical thinking, and problem-solving. We would like to focus our 2019-2020 Acorn Fund wish lists on resources that will enhance our STEAM Initiative such as CODE Robot Repair, Coder Mindz, Bloxels, Evo Robots, iPads, Coding Training for all teachers in grades 2-4, raised garden beds, composting bins, gardening tools, interactive math decals and resources, maker space mobile cart, and science lab equipment.
Kindergarten – Interactive Math Hallway Decals
1st Grade – Gardening and Compost Resources
2nd Grade – Coding Resources
3rd Grade - Coding Resources
4th Grade – Coding Resources
Middle School (grades 5-8) – STEAM Resources
What is the active fundraising period for the Acorn Fund?
Acorn Fund gifts are tax deductible as allowed by law. The 2019-20 Acorn Fund kicks off with a parent celebration and party on September 7, but the active solicitation period will begin on November 4 and will continue through January 11. Payments are due by June 30, 2018, and gifts received by December 31, 2018 are eligible for a 2018 tax deduction.
Who is on the Acorn Fund Volunteer Committee?
Trisha & Bryce Godsey, Chairs
Shelley & Ryan Turner, Immediate Past Chairs
Jennifer & Sean Brevick
Edward Colon & Sandra Espino
Deborah & Matthew Cushing
Keisha & Kevin Duck
Stephanie & Adrian Eaddy
Eric & Jamie Handler
Eve & Robert Scott
Katie & Peter Wasserman
Can I serve on the committee?
Absolutely! Contact Nicole Priem if you are interested in volunteering
How can I make a gift?
Made payable to St. Benedict’s Episcopal School
Attn: The Acorn Fund
St. Benedict’s Episcopal School
2160 Cooper Lake Road
Smyrna, Georgia 30080
Contact Nicole Priem at or (678) 279-4300 x 3121.
All gifts or pledges must be paid by June 30, 2020
What do I do if my company matches charitable contributions?
Many employers will match any charitable contributions made by their employees. If your company has such a program, request a matching gift form. Your gift to St. Benedict’s may be doubled or possibly tripled! Some companies even match gifts made by retirees and/or spouses. If your company is not already on our list to match charitable contribution, please send all paperwork to the development office, c/o Nicole Priem.