The challenge for nonpublic schools including faith-based schools is how to compete with public schools that rely on state and local funding. This is done through a variety of funding means including tuition, scholarships and grants.

But for most schools these sources do not cover everything. There are extra needs that could fall through the cracks through lack of funds. That is where fundraisers of a social nature come into play.

Take St. Anselm School in the Far Northeast of Philadelphia. It’s in an area that traditionally has been populated in large part by families of police, fire fighters and municipal workers, originally because they were required to live in the city.


It’s as close as you can get to suburban living and still be in Philadelphia.

School enrollment took a hit when residency rules were somewhat relaxed but now it has stabilized around 235 students. But that level takes work to keep it going.

St. Anselm School had just finished writing its annual Race for Education fundraiser letter to families when the coronavirus pandemic shut such public events down.

St. Anselm School’s Dance Live Event May 15, a variety show via the online Zoom platform, featured from top) first grader Hunter Jones, third-grade teacher Katherine Schroeder, Kindergarten Amelia Szewczak, third grader Gabriel Donlon and second grader Emily Szczepkowsi.

Also according to Mary Ann Thackrah, the school’s development director, the annual carnival that raises about $35,000 would obviously have to be scrapped, because of the pandemic’s social distancing rules.

What about an online party? That’s how the St. Anselm Showcase and Dance Live Event on Friday evening, May 15 came about thanks to the internet and a Zoom conference.

It showcased the talents and dancing of about 50 St. Anselm students, with a couple of hundred other viewers logging in.

Thackrah especially credits a school mother, Loren Pierson, who has twins Raina and Jude going into fifth grade. She provided the technical skill to make it work.

Her own expertise is in informational technology and she set up the Zoom webinar that enabled all of the families to participate and see one another, just as if they had been there.

“I live in the community and I graduated from St. Anselm myself,” Pierson said. “It is a fabulous school.”

At the end of the day through online donations the school raised $40,000, far above the hoped-for $15,000. The fund will go for STEM education, early childhood education, fine arts and robotics.

Most important, the St. Anselm community — students, faculty and parents — received an object lesson on how emerging technology can make social communication a reality in ways previously undreamed.

Eighth grader Dominic Panepresso programs his Lego Robotics and MacBook Air computer.