Tradition of Giving
The tradition of giving continues to thrive at Carolina Friends School, among alumni, parents, grandparents, staff, and trustees.
Carolina Friends School was begun by a small group of Quakers from the Durham and Chapel Hill Friends Meetings. As former CFS Principal John Baird wrote, our founders dreamed of a school "that would bring together students of diverse backgrounds and embody the Quaker values of respect for the uniqueness and worth of each individual."
The School was incorporated by the state of North Carolina in 1962. Fundraising began the next year among parents, grandparents, Quakers, and the community. In the fall of 1964, CFS opened as an early school for three to five-year olds with space provided by the Durham Friends Meeting.
A grandparent helped secure a $6,000 grant that paid the first salaries. Parent volunteers helped teach the children. Quaker parents gave the land for the main campus. A year later, Chapel Hill Friends Meeting provided space for another early school.
The Years Since
Since those early days, gifts and bequests in wills from parents, alumni, alumni parents, grandparents, Quakers, and others have supported annual budgets, created endowments, built the classrooms, and developed the land.
In the 1980s donations were used to build the Center Building, adding administrative offices and performance space.
Gifts in the 1990s paid to build/rebuild all the main campus classroom buildings and to develop the grounds of the main campus: to house the Lower School library and Forest class; to provide the Upper School Art Studio and the Middle/Upper School Library; to create an Upper School computer lab and science labs; and to renovate the Middle School.
The gym and soccer fields, completed by 2000, were largely funded by gifts made in the late 1990s.
Since then, we nearly doubled the square footage for administrative offices in the Center Building.
Our 2005-2008 Next Step capital campaign raised funds to build the Upper School Meeting Hall (used for classes, assemblies, performances, meetings, and social events) and to add more than $3 million to our endowments.
The Building Friends capital campaign, launched quietly in 2011 and publicly in 2013, has made possible a lengthy list of significant facility enhancements:
- Chapel Hill Early School expansion and enhancements
- Quaker Dome enclosure and renovation for year-round athletic, physical education, and event purposes
- Middle School expansion and enhancements, including a new science wing and new classrooms, tutoring, and studio space
- a new greenhouse for our science and gardening programs, across units
- an enlarged Upper School art studio made possible by relocating the Middle School studio to the expanded Middle School building
- an enhanced Upper School computer lab
- an Upper School Physics lab and makerspace for our science and design and engineering programs
- Lower School expansion and enhancements, including of library, Spanish, art, music, and science
- six tennis courts
- a relocated, regulation-size baseball field
- a new wastewater treatment system, roadwork, and other infrastructure
During our first 50 years, we didn't borrow money to build or renovate our buildings. We paid as we built by seeking donations to support each major construction project. This means that our buildings were all fully funded and that current donations weren't used to pay off past debts.
In Fall 2015, the Board of Trustees approved external borrowing for the first time in CFS' history. This step will capitalize on the School's strong finances and historically low interest rates in order to realize two longstanding needs: a modest addition to the Campus Early School and a new 350-seat theater for dance, drama, and music performances as well as speakers and other community events.
As part of a tradition of careful stewardship, every construction project includes an endowment for the maintenance of the building. This means that day-to-day upkeep for these buildings is prepaid and doesn't require new fundraising to support it. (This also means current tuition isn't raised to pay for these expenses.)
We are so grateful for more than five decades of philanthropic support for Carolina Friends from generous community members.