The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

MC Development team doing important work behind the scenes

James McCormac
The Development offices are located above the Commons and Cacciatore Gym.

Mount Carmel does not operate on tuition alone. It’s expensive to run a school, and MC has a  low tuition compared to how much it costs to actually educate a student.

The school is able to keep its doors open due to the hard work the Development team puts in every year to raise money to cover expenses. Alumni donations help MC tremendously in keeping the school going, but many in the MC community probably never wonder who organizes all the events and reaches out to the alumni to get these donations. The team is made up of Mr. Tony DiFilippo, Mrs. Jenny Czerwonka, Mr. Andy Dimas, Mr. Craig Ferguson, Mrs. Laura Fleck, and Mr. Delfino Unzueta. All of them have their roles and responsibilities that make the machine that is MC Development keep ticking. 

The budgeting is one of the most important tasks at Mount Carmel, and making sure the school can effectively run not only in the present but also the future is essential. Most of that responsibility falls on Mr. Unzueta, the Chief Financial Officer. 

“It involves being able to take a long-term look at the financial strategy of the school,” said Mr. Unzueta. “It’s about how we are going to be sustainable. Making sure we have all the right internal control policies in place, that we are complying with all the laws and regulations, and any kind of additional operating objectives that we have.” 

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The current annual budget of MC is $10 million. The majority of the money comes from families paying to attend MC, which contributes six million. “I think that in a private school like this one of the most important things is tuition,” said Mr. Unzueta. “One of the main objectives of my department is to make sure that tuition collection is happening.” 

But it takes more than tuition to reach that $10 million. The rest is all raised through alums and other various events MC has over the course of the year. Also, there is a large multi-million-dollar endowment that is invested to help keep the school running in perpetuity. Most of this money comes from alumni donations, and it’s very important to the long-term success of MC. 

MC juniors and seniors attend this year’s Career Day fair. (Ellie Menke – Mount Carmel Social Media)

“There’s really two main focuses for the Development team every year,” said Mr. DiFilippo, Vice President of Development. “The first is the operating budget of the school. Then there’s something called the Men of Carmel Fund, and the primary focus of that is to provide scholarships for students and to make sure we can keep the cost of the MC education as low as we can for all of our families. The second is through the Mount Carmel Educational Foundation, which is an endowment fund that was set up to provide financial support forever.”

The endowment is stored in an investment account, and the interest off of it goes back to MC to help with basically every kind of cost the school can encounter. “One way that Catholic schools are going to survive in the future is by having a large endowment,” said Mr. Ferguson, the Director of Planned Giving.

There are also separate funds that are set up as endowed scholarships, the interest off these accounts provides for some of the many different scholarships MC offers to incoming students. Annual scholarships are the most common kind where alums will give a minimum amount of $25,000 to set up a scholarship fund. Usually, they do it for people who they see themselves reflected in and come from the same backgrounds or situations that they grew up in. There is also Planned Giving where people will leave MC a part of their estate in their will for the use of scholarships. “There’s not a ton, but there’s a good number,” said Mr. Ferguson. “It’s something that we are starting to stress a little bit more.

The MC Gala is one of the biggest and most successful fundraisers every year. (Ellie Menke – Mount Carmel Social Media)

Alumni events such as reunions are some of the ways the Development team keeps in contact. “A lot of it is alumni interaction and friends of MC interaction, whether their parents or best benefactors who have been around the school,” said Mr. DiFilippo. “The primary ways are picking up the phone old school or we send out five to six mailings a year. We also reach out to people via social media.” 

Trying to get alumni back for sports games or other events where MC reps can talk to them and see if they are interested in giving back is also crucial. “The big part of talking to alumni is making them understand what’s happening here and what the needs of our school are,” said Mr. DiFilippo. 

Two years ago about seven and a half percent of alumni gave back, but last year that was raised to nine-and-a-half percent. The Development team’s goal is that this year twelve percent of alumni donate. 

 “I think sometimes when you’re a student here you don’t realize that all of the scholarships and financial aid come from our donors,” said Mrs. Fleck. “For the most part when kids get scholarships it comes from our donors, alumni, and friends of Mt. Carmel. Tuition alone does not cover the cost of educating a student here.” 

But keeping in contact with the MC alumni is hard. There are thousands upon thousands of alums from MC scattered about the country and the world, and trying to reach out to them is not an easy task at all. Tracking them down is often tedious and difficult, despite the large database that MC has. 

The alumni banquet helps MC keep in touch with their most important supporters.
(Ellie Menke – Mount Carmel Social Media)

“We’re trying to get younger alumni engaged,” said Mr. Ferguson. “We have an alumni banquet that’s been around for 75 years. We are changing and rebranding that to a Hall of Fame dinner because attendance has not been great the last few years, and younger alumni generally don’t attend events like that. For a long time, MC has tried to jam a square peg into a round hole, but now we’re trying to meet people’s needs and see where they want to be.” An example of these changes is that this year at MC’s annual Fight Night the Class of 1994 is going to have their reunion. 

Overall the Development team has been working hard connecting with alumni and making sure that every MC student gets all the help they need financially. “Our alumni are really generous and want to help you guys,” said Mr. DiFilippo. “They want to support and help out whenever they can.” 

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About the Contributor
James McCormac
James McCormac, Staff Writer
James McCormac is a junior at Mount Carmel. He lives in Bridgeport and attended Old Saint Mary's Grammar School. James is a member of the Varsity football team, the chess team, boxing, and The Merchant. Outside of school James enjoys doing volunteer work. His hobbies are reading and lifting.