It Starts with Avon
The Campaign for Avon raised over 51 million dollars!
We asked and you answered—answered the call to believe in today’s Avonians.
There is still time to support Avon Old Farms School’s Annual Fund... make your gift today.
"To the network of Avonians who have supported our most ambitious campaign to date: our boys thank you, our entire Avon community thanks you and future Avonians thank you. Your generosity will benefit the boys for years to come.
Gifts have made a profound impact on our campus by developing our STEM program, revitalizing the Nimrod Cabin, celebrating the arts in our modern Ordway Art Gallery, renovating the Jennings Fairchild Rink, and building a state-of-the-art kitchen and servery inside the iconic Riddle Refectory. Your gifts also allowed us to make significant strides with our endowment, which fortifies financial strength for scholarships as well as compensation for hiring and retaining our exceptional faculty."
- Jim Detora P'12, Headmaster
INSPIRING BOYS, BUILDING MEN COMES TO A SUCCESSFUL CLOSE
It is with great joy and gratitude that Avon Old Farms School shares the close of its record-breaking fundraising campaign Inspiring Boys, Building Men.
“Upon the successful completion of our Inspiring Boys, Building Men campaign, let me share my sincere and broad thank you for your support of Avon Old Farms,” shared Chairman of the Board of Directors Marty Cole. “Through this campaign, our complete school community came together with the common purpose of positioning Avon Old Farms for continued success in executing our mission.”
The most successful campaign in Avon’s history raised $51.44 million, surpassing the target of $50 million announced at its public launch in September 2018. It featured gifts from 4,267 donors, including alumni, parents, grandparents, friends, directors, faculty and staff, foundations, and students. Forty-eight percent of campaign gifts were made by Avonians. Twenty-three individuals made gifts of $500,000 or more.
The nearly five-year Inspiring Boys, Building Men campaign addressed several of Avon’s signature places where boys can shine, and elevated them:
We highlighted the arts by re-establishing the Ordway Arts Gallery inside Avon’s campus hub, the Brown Student Center, and revitalizing the Estabrook Arts Building.
We opened the Volk Family Computer Lab, expanding our STEM program into its own space in a historic part of campus: the Farm Group’s forge and water tower.
We revamped the Jennings Fairchild Hockey Rink, elevating the stature of our facilities to match the reputation of our game.
We renovated the Tony Waters Servery, which now offers a full plate of healthy and diverse options while preserving the Riddle Refectory alumni know and love.
Our own Nimroders constructed a brand new cabin to house one of Avon’s coveted traditions for years to come.
“The fact that our oldest and most revered club had a place in a modern capital campaign is just one example of the thought and care behind the execution of each of the campaign’s initiatives,” shared Associate Director of Advancement, Development Robin Delnicki. “We started with a strategic plan, and then the board, administration, and faculty all helped identify how to be innovative in those spaces while preserving the traditions that make Avon unique.”
In addition to providing some upgrades to Mrs. Riddle’s nearly 100-year-old campus, many gifts to the campaign supported less tangible initiatives, including scholarships, faculty compensation, and the school’s endowment.
“The endowment is the most intangible thing we could ask donors to support, but arguably the most important,” shared Delnicki. “This campaign secured $19.11 million for the endowment, which is exceptional in terms of our community’s faith in us.”
While nearly all of the campaign occurred under former headmaster Ken LaRocque’s tenure, his legacy at Avon will always involve his advocacy for Avon’s faculty. Prior to his retirement, Avon established the LaRocque Faculty Fund to support our goal to hire and retain extraordinary educators, to enhance their professional development opportunities, and to provide comprehensive and unique benefits for Avon's faculty families.
“My involvement with the campaign over the last few years has given me a chance to get to know even better why Avon is such a successful educational environment for so many,” shared campaign co-chair John Edwards. “My personal commitment to the LaRocque Faculty Fund comes from my opportunities to be in the classroom with the boys over the years. I know that Avon’s classes challenge the boys to achieve great things, and the faculty provides that atmosphere. I see their passion for keeping the boys on track to achieve new things each and every day. It has been a privilege to work on this campaign and I would like to express my appreciation of my fellow board members in their demonstration of commitment to Avon and its mission.”
Under the umbrella of this campaign, this fund raised $1,305,524 for Avon’s faculty endowment. Through the campaign, donors established eight new funds in addition to the LaRocque Faculty Fund and contributed to 42 existing funds. Edwards's co-chair also sees the value in an Avon education.
"Avon has given both my son and me so much, and I felt that assisting with the leadership of this campaign would be a way to give back and help the school," commented Ken Winemaster '83, P'17, campaign co-chair. "I also felt the school needs to be more competitive with other schools in regard to the endowment, facilities, and total faculty compensation. Avon strives to be the best independent school for boys in the country, so we must put focus toward these initiatives if we are to do that. For me, this campaign is the beginning of a sustained effort to generate the funding that will allow us to reach our goals."
When asked about what has been most rewarding about the capital campaign, it was no surprise that Headmaster Jim Detora, P'12 also had a response about the boys:
“Reconnecting with alumni who I had not seen since they were kids in my classroom and hearing about where they are now was extremely validating,” Detora said. “I met good husbands and good fathers. I saw people doing really good work. It was proof that what we’re doing at Avon works, and that our values truly stand the test of time.”
Alumni frequently say ‘There’s so much more available now than when I was a student,’ when they revisit campus, and that’s something that will always be most significant to Headmaster Detora: the campaign’s direct impact on the boys.
“For me, the most important part of this campaign is that it has allowed us to be innovative with our program development, stay flexible for our boys, and responsive to their needs,” Detora said. “In today’s world, teenagers are struggling and an all-boys boarding school is as important now as it has ever been. Boys need a supportive place like Avon. I want to meet the needs of the boys who are coming through our doors today.”
In order to do that, Avon relies on annual fundraising, as well as capital campaigns.
“Through my role as Director of Development and now as Headmaster, I see the importance of fundraising and the impact of successful capital campaigns,” Detora continued. “Fundraising is very hard. I cannot say thank you enough to each and every person who trusted our judgment and believed in our mission enough to donate their hard-earned dollars to our school. Your support is what makes Avon special.”
Avon is at an incredible point in its history: The 2019-20 school year has witnessed the start of a new era of leadership, the close of a capital campaign, and the beginning of a new decade. For Detora, all of those equal one thing: momentum as we look at Avon’s centennial.
“Avon has been my home for 27 years,” he shared. “All three of my kids were born here; I watched them run around the Quad, ride bikes around the Village Green, and saw my son Matt become an Avonian. Ensuring Avon continues to be the best school for boys is something that I’ve truly dedicated my life to. I want to use my tenure as headmaster to ensure Avon is not only viable today, but will still be thriving in another one hundred years.”
To keep up that good work, however, will require ongoing work—even as we celebrate the successful close of the Inspiring Boys, Building Men campaign.
“We are beginning to lay the important groundwork for the centennial and the time in between campaigns is just as important as our public phases," said Detora. "As we look toward the future, the continued support of our brotherhood is essential to help fulfill our mission and ensure we close another successful campaign."