Challenge 3: Secure Bank Street’s Finances and Future
Like people, institutions have distinctive personalities. Bank Street’s persona is defined by its progressive values and distinctive approach to learning.
The early agenda of Bank Street, which came of age in the Progressive Era, was notably anti-materialistic. Bank Street was reluctant to ask people for money, had modest facilities, and provided modest compensation for employees. It wasn’t about the money—it was about what was best for educating the children. It still is. What we can accomplish in a new era, however, depends very much on our ability to attract new friends to a progressive vision of education and cultivating new funding.
Our principles have served us well for a hundred years. But our high ideals and aspirations are both a gift and a burden. The gift is that every day we work for values we believe in, values like learning and collaboration that endure, values that bring meaning to a world defined by endless change and growing complexity. The burden is the high cost of high ideals.
Our business model is expensive because of the time and care we must take with individual learners. We are committed to small classes (in the Graduate School and the School for Children) because we believe that personal relationships are the crucible of learning that lasts.
Bank Street has always made contributions to the field that would be impressive even for a larger, wealthier institution. But we could do much more if our unrestricted net assets (now $8.3 million) were sufficient to allow significant infusions into the operating budget. Therefore, an overriding concern as we move into the new decade is developing a financial plan that can sustain the College over time. This is our biggest challenge, and we are eager to confront it.
To ensure that we reach our goals and continue as a force for change for another hundred years, we will:
- Reduce our dependence on tuition revenues by developing new net sources of income and, where possible, grow student enrollment without adding to expense
- Expand our family of financial supporters
- Seek to use new technology and best practices to restrain costs while improving productivity