Founded in the early 1990s, the Quaker Inner-City School Endowment Fund (QICSEF) was the result of the creative thinking of Imogene and Brad Angell and Bob Glass. During their long service as trustees of Michigan’s Friends School in Detroit, the founders observed that inner-city children, surrounded by drugs, violence, despair, and ethnic and racial tensions particularly benefited from exposure to the spirit and program of Friends schools. The founders also saw that these schools provide excellent models for inner-city education.
As clerk of Frankford Meeting (located in a distressed urban neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa.), I have worked for many years with other members of our meeting to nurture Frankford Friends School, one of five schools that benefited enormously from the work of QICSEF’s founders and other trustees. We have strived to keep our tuition affordable so that children from our immediate community can attend. We do not have a large endowment as some Friends schools do. We have been able to serve a diverse audience with about half of our students being persons of color. We feel our ministry is to continue to operate a school that is Quaker and true to Quaker testimonies and practices.
QICSEF participants were inner-city Friends schools that included elementary grades, with a diverse population and a low or nonexistent endowment. Five schools established QICSEF funds: Friends School of Atlanta in Decatur, Ga.; Friends School in Detroit; Frankford Friends School and Greene Street Friends School in Philadelphia; and Friends School of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn. For the most part, these schools served lower-income families and could not expect high levels of giving from their school communities. QICSEF raised funds to match each school’s contribution and invested the combined funds, periodically distributing the income to the respective school. Over the years, Frankford Friends School’s QICSEF assets grew to nearly $300,000.
Last fall, we learned that after more than 20 years of working on behalf of these schools, QICSEF laid itself down. Trustees Erik Pederson and Alice and Phil Gilbert visited Frankford Friends School several years ago. Erik explained recently, “After the recession hit and the original founders left the committee, contributions waned and we became concerned about being able to provide a reasonable return to our schools.” Feeling that the schools would be better served by having the funds returned to them, the QICSEF committee disbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars that had been accumulated through funds raised by QICSEF, matched by the schools, and invested wisely over the years.
The five schools that benefited from QICSEF have deep gratitude to the founders.
“As I learned more about QICSEF’s history and impact, I felt as though our tiny school had been enveloped by the love of the broader Quaker community,” said Carol Beaton, business manager at Frankford Friends School and parent of two of the school’s alumni.
“I remember when the Angells came to Friends School of Minnesota years ago to learn more about the school,” recalled Lili Herbert, Friends School of Minnesota’s head of school. “I was so impressed by their vision and dedication to providing access to Quaker education for all children. The generous support in building our endowment has helped us do just that.”
Greene Street Friends’ head of school, Ed Marshall, said, “I, along with the 300 students at Greene Street Friends, am incredibly appreciative of the vision of QICSEF and their investment in the future of our school. We have added these resources to our board-designated funds, and they are helping enable us to provide additional financial aid and make major improvements to our campus facilities.”
Garth Morissette, business manager at Friends School of Minnesota, said, “QICSEF was a very unique and vital part of our school’s endowment efforts. The matching mechanism helped turbo charge our own fundraising efforts and literally paid great dividends to our school. We are sorry to see QICSEF go, but we are very grateful to have been able to participate. The founders and donors of the fund should be very proud.”
“It felt great to be part of a wider community of people working for access to Friends schools,” added Lili Herbert. “We are profoundly grateful for the support of QICSEF. It was instrumental in our ability to grow into the school we are today.”
Friends can donate directly to the five schools by following the links below: