August 15, 2017

Starr King Achieves Break-Away Fundraising Success

With the 2017 fiscal year in the books, Starr King School for the Ministry is pleased to report significant strides towards financial sustainability. Through the generosity of our community, strategic campaigns, and a few extraordinary gifts, Starr King was able to exceed its annual fundraising goals.

Our fiscal year got off to a strong start in November 2016 when Starr King received a $2,000,000 bequest to fund the David and Norma Lewis Scholarship Fund, helping to provide full scholarships for students for years to come. David’s children, Kristi, David, and Laura have given an additional $20,000 to kick start the program.

“David Lewis was an ally before the word became fashionable. He believed in Starr King School, the counter-oppressive ways we teach, and the religious leaders we help form,” said President Rosemary Bray McNatt. “Thanks to the generosity of the Lewis family, even more students will benefit from a Starr King education, and the ministers they become will bless our world.”

Building on this momentum, the Starr King community finished 2016 by successfully meeting a $50,000 matching gift challenge (for a total of $100,000) from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. This gift to the operating fund helped offset expenses related to increasing enrollment, and represented the Carpenter Foundation’s commitment to both theological education and programs that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith.

“The Carpenter Foundation is committed to assisting Starr King in becoming financially sustainable,” said SKSM’s Vice President for Advancement, Jessica Cloud. “I am so excited to see alumni and friends of the school stepping up to make a commitment in response to this challenge.”

Starr King’s executive team played a key role in supporting the school’s fundraising efforts as well. President Rosemary Bray McNatt spent a considerable portion of the year sharing the school’s vision at various congregations and events around the United States, while Vice President of Advancement Jessica Cloud spearheaded campaigns, events, and efforts to engage SKSM graduates and members of the larger community.

After months of steady progress, Starr King hosted a string of fundraising events at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly in New Orleans, LA. Over a three-day period at General Assembly, the Starr King community raised over $23,000 in immediate gifts. Moreover, many donors chose to make a multi-year commitment to the school, bringing our General Assembly fundraising total to an impressive $113,361.33.

The aforementioned gifts, coupled with consistent individual donations of various amounts, have led to the school’s best fundraising results in recent memory. Starr King was able to raise $461,148.30 for its operating fund (59% more than 2016) and $2,707,171.36 in total funds (432% more than 2016), including all gifts and pledges. That is a phenomenal success!

“The considerable growth in fundraising in the 2017 year compared to the year before is a wonderful reminder of the strength of Starr King’s transforming message, the loyalty of its graduates and staff, and the love of its many supporters,” said Ted Fetter, SKSM Chair of the Board of Trustees. “I am so very gratified to see the growth in the number of donors, which shows that Starr King’s reach is expanding in Unitarian Universalism and throughout liberal faiths. I thank all those who so generously support the school, and all those who have worked so well to make our message clear.”

It bears repeating that this success would not have been possible without our beloved community. We are deeply touched by the recent outpour of generosity and wish to thank you for your commitment to our school and faith. Thanks to you, Starr King has been able to offset expenses associated with its upward trend in admissions. With 21 new students joining us this week for Fall Orientation, we currently have a student body just shy of 100 aspiring Unitarian Universalist ministers and progressive religious leaders eager to produce the sacred social change our world so desperately needs.

As we reaffirm our commitment to radically progressive theological education this year, we ask that you please consider the importance of Starr King’s work and what you may be able to give. Although we have made encouraging progress, we will need to sustain our efforts to reach our aggressive goal of raising at least $450,000 per year for our operating fund for the next few years. Please know that the true value of your gifts goes beyond simple dollars and cents. It is not necessarily the amount of giving that matters because participation at any level, from graduates in particular, is considered a sign of satisfaction by the Association of Theological Schools, our accrediting body. Giving is also an important factor for foundations considering awarding grants to Starr King. All gifts — from $10 a year, $100 a year, or $1,000 a year — have a tangible impact on our day-to-day operations. To make a gift of any amount to support our work, please visit

Once again, our deepest gratitude goes out to all who have so generously supported our work. Here’s to another year of financial stability and progressive theological education!


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