Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS)

Transformative Models for Independent School Sustainability

The tristate, Greater Delaware (River) Valley region, with Philadelphia at its center, holds the densest concentration of independent schools in the country. It has experienced a declining school age population and a slower recovery from the 2008 recession than most other major metropolitan regions in the U.S., resulting in operational challenges for many of its 132 member schools. In Fall 2018, ADVIS hosted the Transformative Models for Independent School Sustainability Exposition to support transformative collaboration for financial sustainability amongst our schools. John Gulla, Executive Director of the Edward E. Ford Foundation, opened the event with an overview of both the challenges and opportunities he has observed nationwide for the future of schools, followed by a panel discussion with representatives of schools from across the country that have implemented transformative operational models (moderated by Marc Frankel and Judith Schectman of Triangle Associates,):

  • John Kerney, The Winchendon School
  • Robert Kosasky, St. Andrew's Episcopal School
  • D. Scott Looney, Hawken School
  • Michael Nachbar, Global Online Academy
  • Bernie Noe, Lakeside School (and current NAIS Board Chair)
  • Charlie Sachs, The Greenwich Country Day School/The Stanwich School

The panel discussion was followed by two rounds of concurrent deep dive sessions that offered attendees the opportunity to learn more about each initiative. Subsequent to the event, ADVIS issued a Request for Proposals for seed money funding to explore and experiment with collaborative projects and creative initiatives that might result in potentially transformative operational models for schools. Five strategic partnership proposals were funded, representing 14 ADVIS member schools, two local school and university associations ,and a national nonprofit organization. Funded school teams will share information about their progress and results to date with the wider ADVIS community during a concluding Transformative Models for Independent School Sustainability Forum in November 2020, and ADVIS will seek to share the results of this initiative with the broader independent school community as well. 

For more information on ADVIS and this initiative, please visit