One of my first tasks when I arrived back at OLSH was to begin to assess areas of need in order to focus the Advancement Office’s efforts moving into the next decade. Reflecting back on the growth that has happened over the past ten years, it became clear that the school has had the ability to implement enhanced programs, featuring more opportunities for students to enrich themselves academically and spiritually, as well as in athletics and the arts. I can say with confidence that OLSH meets students where they are academically, and that the value proposition of the school is stronger than perhaps it has ever been.
Reflecting on our vision statement words “relevant, rigorous, and transformative”, I also looked to the word “accessible,” and our goal to not turn a family away because of financial need. I felt that it was time to take strategic action to make certain that an OLSH education is accessible to families in our region with diverse personal financial situations. While the OLSH strategic plan - Positioning OLSH for Prominence, Performance and Permanence - looks to further elevate our school’s status, OLSH Advancement efforts will focus on ensuring that our school’s relevant, rigorous, and transformative offerings are financially accessible to anyone in our region who desires an OLSH education.
A renewed emphasis and focus on raising funds for financial aid will make it possible for OLSH to provide a greater range in terms of the amount of aid offered. Our current structure allows for all eligible families to receive a maximum of 45% in aid. An analysis shows that OLSH families have a wide range of income levels with natural divisions that speaks to a need for a tiered system of financial aid distribution.
So, how do we plan to accommodate such a diverse financial spectrum? I am very pleased to announce the Assuring Access to an OLSH Education Program. This program, in effect for the 2020-2021 academic year, will increase the maximum aid package from 45% of tuition charged to up to 75% for families that demonstrate the greatest need, while continuing to offer at least 45% to all families who qualify for aid. Both current and new OLSH families will be eligible for increased financial aid in the upcoming school year.
As outlined in OLSH’s most recent Advancement Review, the 45% financial aid award was a result of the nearly $800,000 in tuition assistance fundraised through Advancement efforts. To subsidize this new plan, we need to raise an additional $250,000 to help families in our region afford tuition. Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Tisch, alumni parents and generous OLSH benefactors, have partnered with OLSH as central individual donors for the initiative. “It is our understanding that the Felician Sisters have always desired that every person have an opportunity to attend OLSH regardless of their financial situation. We strongly support a financial aid program that provides this opportunity”.
Additional conversations are underway with local Pittsburgh foundations and charitable trusts, as well as top corporations, for added EITC support. Pennsylvania’s Education Improvement Tax Credit program provides an avenue for businesses to redirect a portion of state taxes from Harrisburg to OLSH. Individuals can also participate in the EITC program and receive a tax credit for up to 90% of the amount donated to the OLSH Scholarship Program if they meet the SPE (Special Purpose Entity for individual donors) program’s eligibility requirements.
We are committed to demonstrating to our current and prospective families that we will work to meet them where they are in terms of their finances. The Felician Sisters have entrusted us to serve the surrounding community and to make the OLSH experience accessible to anyone who desires it. Increasing the aid available to our families is just another way that we can serve. This new program helps students who may not have otherwise been able to attend OLSH to reap its benefits.
For more information on an OLSH education for your child please contact Jessica Sellman, Director of Admissions & Enrollment at (412) 262-3300.