Dear Friends of AJC,
I’m writing to share a significant development here at Anna Julia Cooper, important enough to merit a letter to our supporters.
After about two years of deliberation, we have decided to remove the word “Episcopal” from the school’s name. The Board’s decision was unanimous, and the process involved thorough consultation with all staff, many donors, the Episcopal Diocese, and AJC families. But that thoroughness and unanimity does not mean it was easy, nor that there won’t be a lingering sense of loss for some. We are, after all, talking about a name, and names are no small matter.
The temptation here is to write a long letter with all the history and factors behind this decision. Instead, I will highlight just a few points. Should you wish to follow up, please pick up the phone and call me!
I will begin with a clarification. While we have been assured that our relationship with the Diocese—which is a very good one—will not in any way change, most people probably do not know that AJC is an independent 501(c)3 with no legal or canonical relationship with the Diocese. Our connection, while significant, is informal. Several Episcopal churches, and many Episcopal parishioners, were present and integral at our founding and continue to be extraordinarily supportive. We are indebted to and grateful for those relationships and support, and always will be.
So why the change?
1) More than ever, AJC is committed to being a religious community rooted in the Christian faith. This is what we mean by a “community of affection,” where love is made concrete in daily interactions between adults and students, in our care for and support for parents, with graduates and volunteers, and in our daily prayers and weekly chapel service. However, we embody numerous expressions of Christianity among students, faculty, volunteers, and donors. We are a big tent. AJC is truly ecumenical and welcomes children and families and supporters and donors and volunteers and collaborators from all corners of the Christian community—and others as well. The word “Episcopal,” we believe, does not describe or express all of who we are and can be confusing to some. So while our name will change, the explicit signs, symbols, and practices of our Christian faith will remain.
2) While it has always appreciated the interest and support from the Diocese, Anna Julia Cooper School is not funded by the Diocese. Over the years, many donors and potential donors have been surprised to learn this, having assumed that all or much of our funding came from there. From a fundraising perspective for a tuition-free school—and we will always be indebted to individual donors for our support—that is a significant fact and one that we cannot ignore.
That’s the brief version. I hope it is of some help and, as I said above, I absolutely welcome calls from anyone who wishes to speak with me about this.
Head of School