Frequently Asked Questions

Why is USM holding a campaign at this time?
Like all independent schools, USM relies on voluntary gifts to meet the needs of the school on an annual basis. Tuition covers 75% of our annual operating budget needs. The USM Fund and income from the existing endowment, as well as proceeds from the Parents’ Association, Booster Club, and other auxiliary revenue, provide the remaining funds to achieve the school’s annual goals. If an independent school wants to make significant gains like endowment growth or campus improvements, the Board of Trustees will assess the needs, develop a timeline, and then determine when it is time to implement a campaign. Before launching Our Common Bond, our Board of Trustees conducted a strategic planning process and completed both a feasibility study and a facility audit to define priorities and timeline of the campaign.

Independent schools typically hold campaigns every 5-7 years. USM’s previous campaign concluded in June 2010. Our Common Bond is a five-year comprehensive capital campaign which launched on July 1, 2015 and closes on June 30, 2020.

What are the priorities of the campaign?
The priorities of Our Common Bond: The Campaign for University School of Milwaukee were developed through a Strategic Planning Process and Feasibility Study involving the Board of Trustees, key stakeholders, and numerous members of our School community. Our goal is to raise $27 million to support and advance our School, and we are quickly approaching this milestone. These contributions are invested in three priority areas: facilities, faculty and programs, and ultimately and most significantly, our students.

Our Campus: The USM campus is a part of every student’s experience. We’re focusing on smart capital projects with the greatest potential to benefit every student every day, and that provide space to enhance the strength of our School community. Priorities include the Jack Olson ’67 Commons to promote our core belief in the power of community and lasting relationships; the Lubar Center for Innovation and Exploration to serve as a hub of experiential technology-based learning; Abert-Tooman Center for the Arts to match the superb quality of our fine arts programs; and the Bruce ’81 and Jennifer Lee Community Room to welcome visitors and hold meetings and events.

Our Faculty and Programs: The strength of our faculty drives USM’s legacy and reputation, and most importantly, the educational experience for our students. We are raising new funds to attract, retain, support, and train our incredible faculty who mentor and inspire our students. Additionally, we will increase our endowment to equip our teachers to develop powerful and innovative ideas and to bring those ideas to our students more effectively.

Our Students and Programs: To build the greatest future for USM, we want the widest range of voices in the conversations that matter most. Building our endowment allows us to significantly increase our investment in financial assistance for our students and to provide all students with innovative programs of continued excellence.

The new and renovated Our Common Bond facilities were dedicated at the start of the 2018-19; why is the campaign continuing?
The new capital projects consisted of a significant portion of the overall campaign, although as a comprehensive campaign, the endowment and the USM Fund are priority areas as well. All gifts to these priority areas help to advance the campaign’s success, and most importantly, the School. It is these contributions that will support the people and programming that utilize the new spaces, and all of our beautiful spaces on campus. As a five-year campaign, Our Common Bond will continue through June 30, 2020 as donors continue to make their best gifts, some to be paid over a period of five years, in the form of a general campaign gift or towards the endowment and/or the USM Fund.
Is the USM Fund included in this comprehensive campaign?
Yes. Our Common Bond: The Campaign for University School of Milwaukee is a comprehensive campaign, which means it includes all gifts to the USM Fund, the endowment, and our priority capital projects from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2020. Therefore, any annual gift through the USM Fund will be included in each family’s total campaign contribution, and will help USM maintain its current level of excellence.

It is important to remember, however, that although comprehensive in nature, the campaign and the USM Fund support separate and distinct areas of the School. The campaign is an intensive, five-year fundraising effort to secure pledges and outright gifts to provide for physical improvements and enhancements, as well as endowment for faculty, students, and programs. The USM Fund is our most dependable, flexible, and impactful source of annual support. Upon receipt, USM Fund contributions are immediately applied towards our annual operational costs to achieve excellence in all areas of school life. It is critical to the success of the campaign and to the daily workings of the school that every family supports USM through the USM Fund on an annual basis throughout the duration of the campaign and beyond. During the campaign, we are also encouraging multi-year USM Fund commitments.

What is the leadership structure of the campaign?
The campaign is co-chaired by current parents and Trustees Rick Stratton ’92 and Karin Werner. Our Campaign Cabinet also consists of members of the community including parents, alumni, and parents of alumni. A full list of campaign leadership can be found here.

The community stage of the campaign provides additional volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in participating as a volunteer, please contact us.

Can I contribute to the campaign?
Yes! We welcome all members of the USM community to make their best gifts in support of the school through Our Common Bond. As a comprehensive campaign, any aspect of school life can be supported through a gift to the endowment or the USM Fund. One of the best ways to support the campaign is to make a multi-year commitment to the USM Fund, which helps to underwrite approximately 4 percent of the School’s annual operating budget, and could potentially represent the largest collective gift ($6 million over five years) to Our Common Bond. If you are interested in learning how to make a multi-year pledge to the USM Fund or the endowment or another area of the campaign, please contact us.
When and how can we learn more about the campaign?
Campaigns follow four distinct stages: an early planning and feasibility stage; an advance gifts stage that focuses on the commitments from our Board of Trustees and their families; a leadership gifts stage for major and impactful gifts; and a final community stage that began once our campaign surpassed 75 percent of the $27 million total goal. We are currently in the community stage of our campaign and look forward to involving even more of our community in the coming months. The Our Common Bond dedication ceremony on August 27, 2018 launched the community phase, which turned our focus on growing our endowment and increasing support of the USM Fund, to further enhance USM’s excellence. Please explore the information provided throughout this website and feel free to contact us directly for additional information at this time. Additionally, we encourage you to visit the News section for donor stories, event summaries, and other exciting aspects of the campaign—and in most of the schools digital and printed communications.

Interested in learning more about Our Common Bond?

Contact Us