William Penn Charter School | Philadelphia, PA
Established in 1689 by its venerable Quaker namesake, William Penn Charter School holds fast to a set of changeless founding principles, which privilege equity and balance and promote service and stewardship. It is also, however, a place of continual growth and fearless change.
As Penn Charter approached a transformative capital campaign—one sure to reshape both physical facilities and pedagogical approaches—the school needed to anchor this moment of exciting institutional evolution firmly in the context of enduring values.
Sharon Sexton, Director of Marketing Communications
Penn Charter’s plans for the future are ambitious: An academic village where adaptive classrooms and updated learning labs facilitate greater collaboration. Integrated athletic and wellness facilities to encourage healthy choices and balanced lives. Campus management policies to increase outdoor learning and play spaces and improve the school’s environmental impact. A Center for Public Purpose to promote the ideals of service and stewardship. And an iron-clad annual fund.
These challenging goals require the support of current families, alums, and donors from across the wider community—and to reach those supporters, Penn Charter needs messaging that speaks to more than a list of improvements (however impressive).
Penn Charter’s capital campaign seeks to communicate lofty campaign goals and detailed plan specifics while also effecting an emotional response in the audience. Most importantly, the school’s messaging places the aspirations of the campaign—and the new spaces and fresh approaches it makes possible—into the familiar context of Penn Charter’s longstanding goals and values.
There, where this thrilling new chapter connects seamlessly to a long and storied larger history, the school’s most loyal audiences can find resonance and make their show of support.
Penn Charter’s How Far Can We See? Campaign is, by the very nature of its tagline, future-focused. Audiences are invited to look immediately forward, reimagining Penn Charter through the lens of a $75 million partnership between the school and its supporters. The campaign materials themselves offer answers to this question by encouraging readers to imagine specific manifestations of the school’s future, ranging from “revitalized outdoor learning and play spaces” to “a seamlessly integrated campus where academics, athletics, and arts” enrich the experience of every student. (The open-ended nature of the question also invites audiences to imagine their own, perhaps even more audacious, responses.)
This strategy of projecting into the future succeeds because it is also carefully grounded in a concrete, sacred, and reassuring past. The short form tagline connects to an anchor phrase, which is sparingly but powerfully used on covers and in main headers. The full phrase— By the light of our Charter, how far can we see?—reminds audiences that the campaign builds faithfully on unchanging, unaltered Quaker principles. By invoking the Charter by which the school was founded more than 325 years ago, the tagline not only sends audiences on a flight of inspiration, but also calls them powerfully home again.
As of April 2019, the How Far Can We See? Campaign has raised over $70 million of its $75 million goal. All sectors of the Penn Charter community have risen enthusiastically to support the school’s efforts, contributing over 16,000 gifts from more than 3,500 donors.