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Success Story

Stevens Cooperative School

With optimism and excellence, Stevens Cooperative School further builds its fundraising capacity, sophistication, and staff – and elevates its philanthropic outcomes.

The Situation

A co-ed, progressive day school for children from pre-K to eighth grade, Stevens Cooperative School offers every student a chance to explore and excel as a citizen of the 21st century. As New Jersey’s oldest cooperative school, Stevens serves a diverse range of families in Hoboken, Jersey City, and nearby communities.

The cooperative model invites parents to work together with teachers and school leaders, eliciting memories from the school’s earliest parents of activities ranging from shoveling snow to advising on strategy. As the school evolved into elementary and middle school education, and as households evolved into those with dual-working parents, the cooperative model has also evolved. Schools like Stevens have professional staff, robust programming, and more limited reliance on parents.

Thus, while development has always been important to Stevens, it has become increasingly essential, much like at other independent schools. Yet annual giving did not reflect this need. A recent poll uncovered that more than 75% of current parents attended public schools, revealing that this is often parents’ first introduction to educational philanthropy. This has been both an opportunity and obstacle as the school has sought to elevate its development program.

The Head of School of Stevens was proud of the growing sophistication of the school’s fundraising operation and remained in contact with Graham-Pelton ever since the conclusion of a development assessment years earlier, which then led to interim staffing and recruitment and onboarding support. Futurecasting, the Head considered anticipated staff transitions and office structure. How could he preserve the development growth and momentum generated since Graham-Pelton’s earlier assessment?


The Solution

The Head of School looked to Graham-Pelton as a trusted partner and resource as he considered the composition of the team in place and anticipated changes in the months ahead.

He turned to Graham-Pelton for help creating a plan. We not only provided transitional staffing services to maintain the development program and worked with volunteers and a temporary employee, but also actively worked to strengthen the Development Department’s systems and processes. We also increased collaboration with other departments and supported Board members so that the next Director of Development would be positioned for success.

The Head of School and Board felt supported and energized by our transitional staffing services, led by consultants who served as a bridge between prior and new fundraising efforts. And with our guidance, the newly placed Director of Development was able to quickly understand and communicate the strengths of the school and its case for support.

Early in his tenure as the new Director of Development, Graham-Pelton conducted a wealth screening to understand the capacity of the community and bring focus to prospect outreach. The process uncovered issues with the school’s database and, as a result, past reports. With our core values of authenticity and boldness guiding us, we worked with Stevens to correct the issues and ensure accurate reporting going forward.

We remain a trusted partner to Stevens Cooperative School and are optimistic about the continued growth of the school’s fundraising efforts. We currently provide high-level coaching services to the new Director of Development, who brings incredible new energy and a cadre of ideas to Stevens.

The Success

Graham-Pelton’s transitional staffing support provided tremendous value to Stevens, which is now able to build on our processes under the direction of an energized Director of Development and confident Head of School and Board of Trustees. Graham-Pelton continues to provide Stevens with coaching services, helping Stevens achieve greater fundraising success with the optimism and excellence that typifies our relationship.

You can raise more money. We can show you how.