Lutheran EducationOverview Funding Strategy How to Apply Grant Application Resources
Statement of Need
More than 7,000 young people attend one of 41 Lutheran elementary, middle, or high schools in the St. Louis region. Lutheran schools are driven by a commitment to the Gospel and focused on a mission of bringing hope and healing to students and their families. Most schools meet or exceed state and national academic standards at all grade levels; all help to develop a minimum of 30 developmental assets in children.
From its inception, Lutheran churches and schools have gone hand-in-hand, with Lutheran schools serving as one of the best tools congregations have to tell the story of Jesus Christ to the next generation. While a majority of students attend a Lutheran church, Lutheran schools are also for the community – nearly 20 percent of students nationally are identified as “unchurched”. This number increases significantly in urban settings.
In the past two decades, Lutheran schools have experienced shifting enrollments and changes in their business model. As recently as ten years ago, church members paid little or no tuition; today the average local elementary tuition is $5,000 for non-church members. These changes have led some schools, particularly those in the urban core, to seek outside financial assistance; some have had close their doors.
Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis has directed a significant portion of our funding over the past 20+ years to ensure that children of our community have an opportunity to attend a Lutheran school of their choice. In the recently approved 2009 – 2013 strategic funding plan, the Board again affirmed its commitment to supporting Lutheran schools of excellence in our community.
Indicators of a Lutheran School of Excellence
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod’s School Ministry has identified the following as indicators of a Lutheran school of excellence:
Academic Excellence - Schools provide evidence of sustained high levels of learning and performance for all students on the knowledge and skills needed for success. Students demonstrate the integration of academic and personal skills into complex performances similar to real life tasks.
Administrative Performance - Exceptional leadership requires administrators that are dedicated to visionary leadership and empowering management. An effective school leader must: 1) possess exceptional abilities in data analysis, staff motivation, and public communication; 2) assure that marketing and public relations are effectively being accomplished; 3) be both visionary and empowering; and 4) have a clear commitment to sharing the Gospel message.
Culture - A school’s culture, simply put, is the “way things are done around here”, made up of historical patterns informally developed over time which may or may not be connected with the school’s written statements of mission, beliefs, and philosophy. Excellent schools work to align culture with the school’s mission and purpose.
Finance - The financing of Lutheran schools today is widely varied. Developing a professional business plan, removal of obstacles to financial excellence, and maintenance of a positive cash flow will lead the excellent Lutheran school to sustaining its ministry for the future.
Governance - The governing board should exist to establish outcomes for the school, to set policies within which the administrator must work, and to define guidelines for its own behavior. Governance always addresses the desires of the stakeholders (those who invest resources in the school because they believe that God and His people will be better served if the school effectively lives out its mission) separate from operations that serve the students and are the responsibility of staff. Effective boards therefore think of stakeholders as the owners and appropriately align the competing dynamics of guidance and identity.
Instruction - Instruction has the largest influence on achievement and learning, reaching its ultimate goal when students are productively engaged in their own learning. Excellent schools are accountable for results that matter, assessing students’ knowledge, skills, abilities and beliefs in such a way that validate mastery of rigorous, meaningful, and relevant core and enriched content, skills, and beliefs.
Master Teacher - Exceptional classroom instruction requires teachers who are dedicated to the instructional process as well as personal professional development.
Mission/Purpose/Vision - Schools and congregations with a healthy sense of mission are committed to both vision and action. By aligning the vision dynamic and action dynamic, a school is assured of implementing and living its mission and realizing the school’s purpose and efforts.
Spiritual Development -
Nothing is more important in defining excellence in a Lutheran school than evidence of students growing in their relationships with their Savior, Jesus Christ. Spiritual development in excellent Lutheran schools aligns the dynamic of commitment with the dynamic of response through words and actions.
To support a system of St. Louis area Lutheran schools dedicated to excellence in Christian education.
Objectives, Activities/Funding Priorities, and Outcomes
Lutheran Foundation has established the following objectives, activities/funding priorities, and outcomes for this funding focus area. We are also establishing evaluation methods to determine our success in achieving the outcomes identified.
Support the strengthening of Lutheran schools of excellence.
Maximize the number of students attending a Lutheran school of excellence.