A coed Friends school, pre-K to 12, on 47 acres in East Falls, Philadelphia

Breadcrumbs

An Endowed Gift for the Grace Fund

Over the course of more than a dozen years, Nicole and Paul Melchiorre have watched their daughters, Alexis OPC ’22 and Graziella, Class of 2024, embrace the full spectrum of the PC experience. When the Melchiorre children weren’t busy nurturing their talents for competitive dance outside of school, they were sampling the smorgasbord of sports and extracurriculars Penn Charter offers.

Field hockey, track, Service Council, Women in Business—“For Alexis and Grace there have been a lot of opportunities to try new things in a safe environment,” Nicole Melchiorre said.

Often, those extracurriculars lead to life-changing experiences and insights for students. And often enough, they come with additional expenses.

Enter the Grace Fund, PC’s full-access fund designed to pay the costs of items and activities not covered by financial aid—everything from soccer cleats to art supplies to musical instruments.

Established in 2008, the Grace Fund honors the late Grace Russell Wheeler, a Penn Charter board member, parent and grandparent. Wheeler guided the  board as clerk from 1975 through 1985 and was a strong voice in the discussions that led to the board’s decision in 1980 to become coeducational.

Since its inception, hundreds of parents and OPCs have given to the fund to help students receive the full benefit of a Penn Charter education.

The melchiorre family poses together at their daughter's graduation

For the Melchiorres, it’s important that every child who passes through PC’s red doors has access to those life-changing opportunities, regardless of cost. And so, in the spring of 2022, they decided to make a lead gift to help endow the Grace Fund, ensuring that that financial support remains available for future generations of students.

“There’s more to Penn Charter than just the academics—it’s the class trips, the school dances, the equipment for extracurricular activities,” Melchiorre said. “The Grace Fund allows everyone to experience everything that PC has to offer.”

The Melchiorres’ gift provides significant starting capital, but growing the fund to a size that’s self-sustaining will take time and additional contributions. “It’s in its infancy,” said Assistant Director of Development Nicole Martz, “and as we come out of the How Far? campaign, the endowed Grace Fund will become a greater giving priority for us. We are fortunate to have the continued annual support of our community that sustains the program while we grow the endowment.”

Since its inception, hundreds of parents and OPCs have given to the fund to help students receive the full benefit of a Penn Charter education.

Supporting the endowed Grace Fund means supporting something that drew the Melchiorres to Penn Charter in the first place: the experience of being part of a diverse community. “We wanted our girls to have that opportunity,” Melchiorre said.

The Melchiorre girls came to School House Lane as kindergarteners and took a two-year hiatus when the family moved to California, earning them a status their mother calls “not quite lifers.” But if anything, the time away allowed Alexis, Grace and their parents to appreciate Penn Charter more.

With their tenure at PC finally nearing its end, the Melchiorres are eager to pay it forward. “I’m a firm believer that it takes a village to raise kids,” Melchiorre said. “And we are happy the PC community is part of our village.” 

 

In the spring of 2022, the PC Parent and Caregiver Community decided to honor the retirement of Beth Glascott Hon. 1689 with both a tree planted on campus in her honor and a gift made to the Endowed Grace Fund in her honor. Glascott administered the Grace Fund for many years during her 40-year tenure at PC, while also serving as science teacher, coach, Middle School assistant director, Upper School director, assistant head of school and associate head of school.