During a one-of-a-kind celebration held Thursday evening during Catholic Schools Week, Chaminade Julienne revealed its $20 million comprehensive campaign, LIFT— Leading in Faith Today, and announced that 67 percent of the goal had already been met.
“LIFT continues our recent momentum at CJ, leading us to always ask ‘What’s next?’ for our students and community,'" said Dan Meixner, president. “Our ability to celebrate this milestone, and publicly share the full scope of our priorities, is due to the generosity of more than 70 families, alumni, friends, mission partners and seven foundations who are truly Leading In Faith Today. They believe in what we are accomplishing for students and their leadership commitment has given us an outstanding start to this effort.
“We are encouraged by their support, which has already generated nearly $13.4 million towards that goal, and reaching this milestone calls for celebration. The active involvement of our benefactors in bringing to life such things as the CJ STEMM Center, athletic facilities, and student and teacher support programs will inspire many others to play a critical role in the success of LIFT. And, as you heard this evening, there is still more to do.”
According to the school’s plan, the largest investment goal of LIFT is $10 million to fund capital improvements. The opening of the Eagle Tennis Center in fall 2011 was a direct result of early funding, and the CJ STEMM Center, which opened in August 2013, is indicative of the kind of transformation the school envisions for the entire building at 505 S. Ludlow St.
“Capital improvements are the most critical next phase for LIFT, and represent very tangible incentives for the financial support that we believe will come to fruition through the support of the broader CJ community,” Meixner said.
Additional LIFT capital improvements the school expects to be complete within the next three to four years include:
- modernizing the school’s 745 seat auditorium and adding rehearsal spaces for the growing performing arts program;
- redesigning the cafeteria to also function as a student and community gathering space;
- the addition of gateways and landmarks that will unify the campus and more clearly identify the school’s Catholic, Marianist and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur heritage;
- the further development of Blue Green Field into a competition venue for soccer and lacrosse;
- modernizing buildings and heating and cooling systems allowing for year-round learning; and
- renovating classrooms into bright learning spaces that match today’s innovative style of teaching.
“We are working with Shook Construction and Pinnacle Architects, our planning and construction team, to break each of the larger projects down to subsets of smaller projects that can be funded and accomplished sooner. This steady and constant transformation will allow us to manage projects around student use of the facility and will be exciting for our community, since each project completed will represent increased opportunities for our students,” Meixner said.
The school’s initial goal of $1 million to fund strategic program development and implementation was met early on which elevated student success programs like CJ STEMM and City Connects to premier levels in the region and nation. More than half of the $3 million goal for the school’s endowment has already been committed and fortifies the school’s financial viability. Early success of LIFT also includes the goal of increasing the Annual Fund over five years to raise $6 million in support of annual operations and tuition assistance — a priority that has been generously answered over the last three years, giving the school confidence that the increased levels of participation will continue over the next two.
The endowment growth component of LIFT supports teacher development, tuition assistance and the school’s comprehensive ministry and service program. The goal is to continue to attract and develop excellent teachers, help ensure a wide diversity of talented students, and allow even more students to participate in class retreats and service learning opportunities.
“Part of the initial strategic program investment was in supporting a culture of innovation among our teachers,” Meixner said. “Out of that was born several student success programs and student support programs that allow students to sharpen skills and take fuller advantage of our rigorous academic program,” Meixner said.
For example, CJ’s partnership with Boston College and the Mathile Family Foundation led to the implementation of City Connects at CJ, an optimized student support program that addresses the social and emotional needs of all students. The school attributes the program as a key factor in the school’s improved retention rate, and CJ leadership now plays a lead role in helping other schools adapt the model.
Academic offerings have strengthened, too. Through partnership with the University of Dayton and Sinclair Community College students can earn college credit while taking CJ courses. The same applies to nearly 25 percent of the school’s students who have chosen to enroll in Project Lead the Way biomedical and engineering courses. Other skill-building programs include the CJ Writing Center and Connected Classroom which integrates technology into all facets of learning.
One of the school’s newest programs, Senior Capstone, is a way for students to connect faith, meaning and advocacy to affect change in issues about which they have become passionate. After spending junior year volunteering at a community organization for a minimum of 25 hours, students take the next step by researching an issue and then influencing others to become part of the solution.
“Chaminade Julienne does so much to bring out its Catholic mission in the lives of its students, which is reflected in how students interact with each other and those outside of the school,” said Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., Fr. Ferree Professor of Social Justice at the University of Dayton, Chaminade Julienne Trustee, and one of the honorary chairpersons for LIFT.
“The CJ community brings together students, families, faculty, administrators, Trustees and graduates from all part of the greater Dayton community. As we continue to build a community which honors the many gifts of the diverse people, and build cohesion around the task of providing excellent educational opportunities, we are a prophetic witness — a beacon of hope — to what our greater Dayton community can be.”
The school has experienced increased enrollment over the last three years which is attributed to the increased academic offerings, student support services, new CJ STEMM facilities that allow full implementation of science and engineering curriculum, and commitment to diversity.
“This is an inspired community and we want to share that with families who need to know that we are here to serve them,” said Pete Haley, CJ Trustee and chair of LIFT. “The completion of this effort will help firmly establish Chaminade Julienne as the premier Catholic educational experience in the Dayton region.”
“Through these investments,” Meixner continued, “we know that more students will have access to elevated opportunities and college-level experiences that will help them be successful at CJ, prepared to complete college, and live a faithful and inspired life serving God’s people, as He calls them to do.”