Our Model Is Working
Nativity Prep Academy’s goal for the next five years is ambitious: to break the cycle of generational poverty for hundreds of children. The students whom we serve from middle school through high school and into college are from impoverished families and will be the first, or among the first, in their families to graduate from college. So, what makes us unique? What makes us special? For one, we make an eleven-year commitment to educating our students. We work with each student to achieve excellence from sixth grade all the way through college.
Our eleven-year commitment is unique. And so is our ten-hour school day and extended academic year. During their three years at Nativity Prep, our students develop as people of solid character and serious purpose, eager and prepared in every way to meet the challenges—and to take full advantage of the opportunities—ahead of them at a variety of college-prep high schools in San Diego.
We are a WASC-accredited, tuition-free middle school serving more than 60 low-income sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students in a Catholic, private school setting and another 140 of our graduates in high school and college. From our first graduating class of eighth graders in 2005 through the present, our students have continued their path to college at a number of distinguished high schools in San Diego and beyond. These great schools are our partners in this mission. Each of them provides our graduates with generous financial aid. Nativity Prep also provides our graduates with over $100,000 each year in direct tuition assistance. And the families of our graduates help to pay part of the cost, too. Among these great partner schools are The Bishop’s School, Francis Parker School, Cathedral Catholic, Saint Augustine High School, The Academy of Our Lady of Peace, High Tech High, Mater Dei Catholic, The Preuss School at UCSD, and Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana and Rosary High School in Fullerton.
The Goal Is College
Our work does not end with eighth-grade commencement each June. Through our Graduate Support Program, we remain fully committed to the work of educating our students from middle school through high school to college—we help subsidize high school tuition costs and other fees for our graduates; we advocate on behalf of our graduates with teachers, counselors, and administrators at the high school level; and we assist our graduates with academic tutoring, with SAT / ACT preparation, and with navigating the process for college admissions and college financial aid. Our graduates currently attend a variety of two- and four-year colleges—among them, Yale University, Saint Mary’s College, University of San Diego, USF, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, San Diego State, and our local community colleges.
About This Plan
Two brief points about this plan: one, the planning process involved all constituent groups within our school community—trustees, benefactors, faculty and staff, graduates and current students, and community volunteers; and two, the plan itself represents what we believe are realistic and measurable yet ambitious goals that will ultimately have an even more profound impact on our students’ capacity to earn an excellent education and to become “persons for others” in the local and world community.
Whether you are learning about us for the first time, or a member of our school community already, we thank you for considering our vision for the next five years and beyond, and we welcome your involvement. And, as always, we ask that you help spread the good news of our success.
Strategic Planning Committee
Deacon Mike Daniels
Dr. Sandy Buczynski
Fr. Gil Gentile, SJ
Dr. Richard Kelly
Dr. Marilies Schoepflin
Dr. Jocelyn Schultz
Faculty and Staff
Laura de la Cruz
Current Students (2011-2012 academic year)
Dr. Lis Johnson
GOAL 1: Achieve long-term financial sustainability
Breaking the Cycle of Poverty
Our benefactors’ generous financial support has allowed us to prepare hundreds of bright, motivated students for success in high school, college, and life. The community that supports us trusts wholeheartedly in the life-changing, student-centered mission of our school: helping to break the cycle of poverty by providing a holistic, rigorous, and transformative education to the college-bound students in our care. Our commitment is to meet the full financial need of all admitted students.
Long-term Funding Is Our Goal
As an all-scholarship school funded solely through the generosity of individual supporters and corporate and foundation grants, our primary goal for the next five years, and beyond, is to build long-term financial security for our unique mission. The recent economic recession forced us to focus on fundraising to meet our short-term financial obligations. Now our development team has set the goal to achieve the financial flexibility to plan strategically and pursue more long-term objectives.
Our Champions Club
Several of our key benefactors have recently committed to helping us in this quest by providing very generous multiple-year financial gifts. These gifts allow us to begin shifting our fundraising focus to the future—namely, on building our endowment, on increasing our donor base, and on securing an increase in named scholarships each year for our middle school and high school students.
Growing Our Mission
When all of our major stakeholder groups—trustees, benefactors, faculty and staff, graduates and current students, and community volunteers—were asked, “Where would you like to see Nativity Prep in five years?,” the response was nearly unanimous: “Helping more children.” Our Board of Trustees will consider an increase in student enrollment by 50% when our long- term sustainability goals are achieved. We will not increase enrollment until we can assure our stakeholders that the financial assets required for growth are in place.
In Funding Our Annual Budget
- Secure ($10,000) annual scholarships for every middle school student through our Sponsor-a-Student Program
- Secure funding for any tuition shortfalls and all supplemental costs for our graduates attending private schools through our Graduate Support Endowment Fund
- Employ internet-based social media and traditional print and visual media to increase our current donor base
In Building Long-term Sustainability
- Increase cash reserves to $750,000
- Build our Nativity Prep Endowment Fund to $1.2M
- Build our Graduate Support Endowment Fund to $2.0M
- Recruit an additional five Champions Club members
- Increase Legacy Society membership to 15 (bequests)
GOAL 2: Develop a more rigorous and balanced curriculum, with a focus on 21st-century skills—creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and technology.
Our school is founded on the Jesuit tradition of education. The principles of this tradition that influence our work the most are instilling academic excellence, developing the whole person, and forming students to be “persons for others.” We adhere to the highest academic standards. In and out of the classroom, our attention to, care for, and love for our students are the hallmarks of our program—in daily interactions with them in the classroom, through community service and spiritual formation, and through athletics.
Responsibility to Our Students
Within this rigorous, practical, and highly effective approach to education, however, we also know that best practices in teaching and learning are in a relatively constant state of change. Our responsibilities to our students include preparing them to excel academically with the requisite critical-thinking, social, and technological skills they will need in the 21st century.
Excellent Teachers: Our Greatest Resource
Within this challenging framework of teaching and learning for the 21st century, we also recognize our ongoing responsibility to hire and develop excellent teachers—to provide even greater incentives and support as they continue to develop realistic, rigorous, and relevant academic practices for our students.
In Academic Practices for Students
- Adopt and develop beginning 2013 the Common Core curriculum and correlative, authentic, relevant measures for formative and summative assessment of student learning.
In Teaching Excellence
- Increase professional support and salary incentives for teachers to develop excellent courses and teaching materials. Increase support for teachers to attend professional conferences and to be involved in research projects and professional associations.
In Support and Resources
- Commit to extending and creating additional opportunities for our students (through technology, partnerships, and programs), further integrating them into all our academic programs.
GOAL 3: Ensure that 100% of our alumni graduate from high school and college.
Personal Care for Our Graduates
Our Graduate Support Program (GSP) is perhaps the most critical component of our college-focused model and mission. Its central purpose is to sustain and further develop the academic successes, social skills, and habits of character that our graduates learned at Nativity Prep. Our GSP provides the personal care and support that remains the hallmark of our school, and the care and support our graduates continue to need on the path to college.
Through our Graduate Support Program, we remain committed to the work of educating our students from middle school through high school to college. Ninety-seven percent of our graduates have earned their high school diploma, and 86% of them have matriculated to a two- or four-year college or university. With the help of volunteer college coaches, we initiated an effort in 2011 to provide more personal support for our graduates. Our focus for the next five years is to invest greater financial resources and to secure more volunteers to assure that 100% of our graduates are excelling in high school and enrolling in college.
In Direct Services to Alumni
- Develop a diagnostic database to track current academic status and ongoing college preparedness for each alumnus.
- Expand and improve our College Coaching Program for all alumni.
- Provide on-site SAT and ACT prep classes for eleventh-grade alumni.
In Parent Support and Resources
- Develop an admissions profile for each college-prep high school to better assist eighth graders and their parents discern best-fit choices for secondary school.
- Develop a comprehensive program to assist our parents and alumni in researching, applying to, and enrolling in college.
- Provide informational and hands-on assistance to parents and alumni for completing college financial aid and scholarship applications.
In Middle School Curriculum
- Expand the variety of choices for high school admissions for our rising ninth graders to include a broader range of private-independent prep schools (including boarding schools) in the greater Southern California region.
- Implement a rigorous prep program for the high school placement tests.
GOAL 4: Establish Nativity Prep Academy as one of the best-known schools in San Diego County.
Our Unique Mission
Since our founding in 2001, we have earned a reputation for transforming the lives of children born into poverty. Now in our eleventh year, Nativity Prep Academy remains the only all-scholarship private school in all of San Diego County and continues to serve over 200 students from middle school through high school to college. Because our program is so fundamentally unique, it requires a creative communications campaign to tell our remarkable story.
Telling Our Story
A strong communications plan is indispensable for achieving our primary goal of long-term financial sustainability. A well-designed communications campaign is necessary to attract benefactors and volunteers who share our belief that a quality education is the answer to ending poverty. Our goal for this campaign is to reach out to individuals, corporations, foundations, and Catholic and Christian organizations that share our vision.
In Outreach and Public Relations
- Maintain a cutting-edge website that will draw potential donors and volunteers.
- Utilize online and social networking media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) to raise awareness of our mission.
- Form a Public Relations Committee to increase publicity and media coverage.
- Develop a Parish Outreach Program through quarterly updates to pastors offering speakers, inserts, or other handouts for their congregations.
- Create a style guide, key messaging document, and press kit to ensure consistency in all communications.
- Implement a Nativity Prep Gift Card campaign to promote group giving and online giving.