Advancement Academy

Advancement Academy | Admission | Development | Marketing Communications
Advancement Academy | Admission | Development | Marketing Communications

Date(s): -
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Certification Credits: 40 IACP

A New Approach to Marketing, Admission, and Fundraising. Unmatched Results.

Hundreds of schools have surpassed their enrollment management, development, and marketing goals after attending ISM’s Advancement Academy. With ISM, learn how you can lead with clarity and achieve extraordinary results.

We’re three years into this journey and the ROI of working with ISM has been huge—not just financially, but also culturally. We are at our highest enrollment to date, we’ve completed a $10M Capital Campaign for a 42,000-square-foot addition, and the response from our community has been great. 

Kristin Phillips. Director of Development at Des Moines Christian School, IA
2016 Advancement Academy Attendee

Hurry! Advancement Academy 2019 sold out by April. Claim your seat today!


The investment in the Academy is so worth it. I can't say enough about the good work that is being done here. Every second has been worth it and I wish I could come back every year. 

Jackie Grosser, Director of Upper School Admissions, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, NY

Is Your School Capable of More?

Join us if you've experienced ...

  1. Declining enrollment levels, and you want to rethink how you share your message in your community
  2. Stalled fundraising efforts, but you're confident there is more opportunity
  3. Lack of marketing evolution, while other schools create new approaches
  4. Fragmented, disjointed work among departments, despite the fact that everyone is working hard
  5. Lack of clarity on where to focus next, but you are ready to take your strategy to a higher level

How Will Advancement Academy Transform Your School?

Feel confident that your team will come together to create the right strategies for your school through an intense, hands-on experience, guided by expert practitioners.

Achieve an Unparalleled Focus Through Proprietary Assessments

Discover your school’s strengths and challenges so you know where to focus your efforts. You'll begin your week at the Academy by taking our advancement assessments backed by over 40 years of ISM theory.

Rely on Your Mentor's Expert Advice and Insight

Your expert mentors are there to guide you every step of the way to maximize your time at the Academy. Your dedicated mentor will help you select sessions, work toward goals, and build your action plan. 

Create a Clear, Unified Strategy Across Departments

Attend with your team—School Heads and leaders from Admission, Enrollment Management, Fundraising, and Marketing—to strategize for the year ahead and collaborate on a unified, aligned approach. You can also come alone to strengthen your school's efforts alongside your mentor and a network of fellow professionals.

Return Home With a Plan For Success

You’ll walk away with an action plan to achieve your goals—with the confidence to know you’ll make an impact when you return to campus.

See our recap from 2019!

AA Web button to Recap





Who Will Benefit From the Academy?

School leaders in admission, enrollment management, development, marketing communications, as well as School Heads will benefit from the Academy.

The Academy is a wonderful opportunity for teams to strategize for the year ahead. You’ll join different sessions to discover new approaches, and regroup with your colleagues to share what you’ve learned. Come together—with your mentor—to build a cohesive approach for the year ahead using everyone’s strengths.

The Academy also provides ample opportunities for administrators who come alone to learn and engage with their mentor and a network of fellow professionals, while developing a realistic action plan to implement at their schools.

Innovation is Key to a Winning Strategy

Whether or not you’ve attended the Academy in the past, now is the time to learn the latest methods to help you meet your goals. Each year’s curriculum offers new learning opportunities and is refined to deliver a uniquely individualized experience, allowing for maximum team collaboration and deep School Head engagement.

Stand Out and Mark Your Achievements

Administrators who complete the Academy will earn 40 credits toward their International Advancement Certification. ISM’s International Advancement Certification Program offers the industry’s only interdisciplinary set of credentials that recognizes learning across the areas of admission, enrollment management, development, and marketing communications in private-independent schools. Stand out and mark your achievements!

Advancement Academy Faculty

One of the things that makes the ISM Advancement Academy unique is your chance to work with a seasoned private-independent advancement professional every day. You and your mentor will select the track(s) and workshops you will attend throughout the Academy. Together, you will develop an action plan to take back and implement at your school.

The Distinguished Advancement Academy Faculty and Mentors

Greg Abel Greg Abel, IAP-L
Director of Marketing and Communications
The Providence Country Day School
660 Waterman Avenue
Providence, RI 02941
(401) 438-5170 main
Penny Abrahams Penny Abrahams, IAP-L
Academy Convener
Consultant, ISM
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main


Casey Bell Casey Bell, IAP-L
Director of Enrollment Management
All Saints’ Episcopal School
9700 Saints Circle
Fort Worth, TX 76108
(864) 582-7539 
Harold Brown Harold Brown, IAP-L
Director of Advancement
Cranbrook Schools
PO Box 801
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303
Michael Christopher Michael Christopher, IAP-L
Consultant, ISM
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main
Phil Higginson Phil Higginson, IAP-L
Associate Head of School Philanthropy
Ravenscroft School
7409 Falls of Neuse Road
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 847-0900 main
(919) 847-0900 x2232 direct
Clint Losch Clint Losch
Director of Marketing Operations, ISM
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main
Robert Marley Robert Marley
Multimedia Specialist, ISM
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main
LJ Mitchell L.J. Mitchell, IAP-L
Director of Development
The Calhoun School
433 West End Ave.
New York, NY 10024
(917) 609-0848 cell
Connect with L.J. on LinkedIn
Amy Riley Amy Riley, Ed.S., IAP-L
Consultant, ISM
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main
Steve Salvo Steve Salvo, IAP-L
Assistant Head for Advancement & Enrollment
Trinity Episcopal School
1315 Jackson Ave,
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 525-8661
Greg Simon Gregory Simon
Director of Advancement
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
1300 Giddings Road
Pontiac, MI 48340
(248) 373-2171 x5
Herb Soles Herb Soles, IAP-L, CFRE
Consultant, ISM
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 656-4944 main


Gigi Tysinger Gigi Tysinger, IAP-L
Director of Advancement Services
Norfolk Academy
1585 Wesleyan Drive
Norfolk, VA 23502
(757) 461-6236 main
(757)-452-6765 direct


2020 schedule coming soon!

Monday, July 22, 2019

11:00-1:00 Registration and Refreshments
1:00-1:45 Welcome and Keynote
2:00-4:00 Rethinking (Un)Restricted Annual Giving How to Capture Data and Get Bigger Gifts Maximizing Results for Your Advancement Team, No Matter the Size
  Your Enrollment Management Team: It’s Not Just the Admission Director’s Job Utilizing Data to Enhance Enrollment Are Your Marketing Materials Making the Grade?
4:15-5:30 Mentor Groups — Assessments and Reflection

Opening Reception—Mix and mingle with faculty, staff, and fellow attendees


Mentor Group Dinner—An opportunity for members of mentor groups to get to know each other, as well as an opportunity to meet people from around the globe

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

7:30-8:30 Breakfast
8:30-10:30 Data Over Dinners: Create and Implement Strategic Stewardship Plans Do You Really Need to Do a Capital Campaign? Re-e-eally? Why Some Advancement Teams Thrive, While Others Just Survive
  Retention Starts Now: Successfully Onboard Your New Families A Seat at the Table: The Enrollment Management Professional’s Work With the School Head and Board of Trustees Substance Over Style: Reinforce Your Value Proposition With Social Media
10:30-11:00 Reflection/Refreshment
11:00-12:15 Mentor Groups
12:15-1:30 Lunch and Heads Luncheon
1:30-3:30 Before the Ask: Identify, Engage, Evaluate Keys to Building and Nurturing a Productive Volunteer Corps The Role of Board Committees in Sustaining Your School
  From Fear-Based Decision-Making to Fearlessness—Become a Marketplace Influencer Innovation for Admission and Development Stop Overwhelming Your Families: Creating a Truly Strategic Communication Plan



Mentor Groups


Networking Reception


Socializing; further individual/team thinking, reflection, networking

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

7:30-8:30 Breakfast
8:30-9:45 Keynote
9:45-10:15 Reflection/Refreshment
10:15-12:15 Donor Retention: Love the Ones You're With! The Ask and Beyond: Solicit, Recognize, Steward Create a Framework: Strategic Planning and Strategic Financial Planning
  Empower Faculty to Be Frontline Recruiters and Re-Recruiters Storytelling Through Video to Drive Enrollment and Giving Create Buzz: Enhance Your Word of Mouth Marketing Efforts Through Ambassador Programs
Free Time

Thursday, July 25, 2019

7:30-8:30 Breakfast
8:30-10:30 Engage Your New Families in Your Culture of Giving Six Other Days of the Week: Reframing Giving Days Establish and Nurture a Customer Service Culture
  Part I: Soft, Flat, or Declining Enrollment? Use ISM’s Enrollment Management Framework to Find Out Why Beyond the Open House: Recruitment and Re-Recruitment Events One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Segment Your Marketing Efforts
10:30-11:00 Reflection/Refreshment
11:00-12:15 Mentor Groups
12:15-1:30 Lunch and Heads Luncheon
1:30-3:30 Create a Robust Alumni Program The Why of Your Capital Campaign: Write a Compelling Case for Giving The Head and the Board: Their Critical Roles in Advancement
  Part II: Soft, Flat, or Declining Enrollment? Use ISM’s Enrollment Management Framework to Find Out Why Shift to Continuous Enrollment to Boost Retention The Online Universe: Can Anyone Find Us?
3:30-4:00 Reflection/Refreshment
4:00-5:15 Mentor Groups
5:15-6:15 Networking Reception
Evening Socializing; further individual / team thinking, reflection, networking

Friday, July 26, 2019
Please note change in breakfast and session times

7:00-8:00 Breakfast
8:00-9:30 Plan Presentation and Peer Review: A critical culminating activity that really helps encapsulate what you have learned and where you are going.
9:45-10:30 Mentor Groups
10:45-11:30 Closing Session

Advancement Sessions

Maximizing Results for Your Advancement Team, No Matter the Size


  • Understand the challenges embedded in a small team
  • Define priorities for you, your department, and your direct reports
  • Begin to examine how to achieve balance and avoid burnout


Most Development, Admission, or Marketing offices have five or fewer staff members, including you. How do you manage an office when you have few or even no staff at all? How do you choose what to do and what not to do? Leading might seem like an impossible task—so much to do and so few people to do it—but nonetheless can be a fulfilling and rewarding skill. Leave from this session with a better understanding of your own challenges, the steps that you can take to define priorities, and the balance you need to be effective.

Why Some Advancement Teams Thrive, While Others Just Survive


  • Understand how to use Essential Expectations and Duties and Responsibilities to hire and evaluate outstanding faculty and staff
  • Discover how Mission, Well-Being, and Leadership Characteristics serve as a basis for professional growth and renewal
  • Determine how to coach and mentor your employees to effectively promote professional growth


Schools today must align their enrollment management, development, and marketing communications strategies to effectively recruit and re-recruit families, support their communities, and serve their school’s mission. In order to do this, school leadership teams must be able to identify the traits of outstanding advancement professionals and high-performing teams.

Join this session to learn what advancement professionals must possess to perform at a high level. Discover how you can identify these traits in new hires, as well as coach, mentor, and support those already at your school to help them unleash their full potential.

Keys to Building and Nurturing a Productive Volunteer Corps


  • Learn how to recruit, hire, train, inspire, and steward volunteers
  • Create engaging volunteer job descriptions and evaluations
  • Devise leadership succession plans


The old adage “time is money” provides the context for this workshop. Volunteer time in 2018 was worth $24.69 per hour or more $50K each year. Make no mistake—volunteers are valuable members of your school’s workforce.

Does your school reflect that value? Do you (and should you) differentiate between the way you engage your staff and your volunteers? How are volunteers integrated within your team? Would your volunteers describe their work as “vital” or “essential” to achieving your goals? Learn the answers to these questions and more, leaving with the tools to build and sustain a powerfully engaged volunteer corps.

The Role of Board Committees in Sustaining Your School


  • Understand the composition and function of four important board committees
  • Explore ways that staff can support those committees and their work
  • Consider case studies of committees whose decisions threaten the overall viability of the school
  • Create steps for your school to more effectively support the work of board committees


This session will take a deep dive into the role that board committees can have in sustaining financial viability and excellence for future generations of students. Central to that role is the Committee on Trustees, which profiles, evaluates, and supports Board members.

The Development Committee creates and promotes opportunities for the board to provide resources for the future, the Finance Committee is the steward of those resources, and the Head Support and Evaluation Committee undergirds the Head’s ability to meet the strategic goals of the Board. This workshop will explore strategies that sustain the important contributions of these committees to sustain the work of the Board and the future of the school.

Create a Framework: Strategic Planning and Strategic Financial Planning


  • Explore translating your school’s long-range goals and aspirations into a solid strategic planning framework that guides the work of your school and board
  • Evaluate your school’s foundational stability with ISM’s Stability Markers
  • Discover how the strategic planning process should be realistic and practical, recognizing both the responsibility and revenue that undergird the plan
  • Understand how a strategic financial plan is an essential component of any strategic planning process
  • Begin creating your Advancement Plan from your aspirational goals made concrete by your Strategic Plan and Strategic Financial Plan


The foundational component of a strong advancement program is a Board that thinks strategically. In fact, aside from hiring the School Head, strategic planning is the key component of the Board’s work. This workshop provides an overview of the strategic planning process, including a close look at the fifth iteration of ISM’s Stability Markers, the strategic plan, and the strategic financial plan. Leave with the tools to evaluate your current plan and begin to prepare your school for a robust and effective strategic planning process.

Establish and Nurture a Customer Service Culture


  • Understand and recognize the elements of an excellent culture of customer service
  • Develop strategies and a plan to ensure a culture of customer service permeates every experience at your school


In today’s private-independent school market, the customer experience is everything. Positive customer interactions must be an intentional part of your school's culture. A customer service culture that is embraced by all employees of the school begins by examining the experience your families have today!

You will determine what good customer service looks like at your school by taking a metaphorical walk through every aspect of your school and identifying obstacles that make it hard to achieve. You will leave this workshop with concrete steps that you can implement at your own school to develop, sustain, and strengthen your school's customer service experience, resulting in better student retention and recruitment.

The Head and the Board: Their Critical Roles in Advancement


  • Learn how your School Head and your Board of Trustees set the tone and direction for all aspects of Advancement
  • Identify these roles in the three areas of advancement, which include enrollment management, marketing communications, and development
  • Explore strategies for fostering an atmosphere of open, honest communication and collaboration between all areas of advancement
  • Clarify appropriate roles and responsibilities for the School Head, the Board of Trustees, and your advancement professionals


As School Head, you are responsible to ensure that all advancement functions in your school are delivered with excellence. As a member of the Board, you are responsible for ensuring that resources are available to ensure that the mission is realized.

Understanding the symbiosis that exists among enrollment management, marketing communications, and development will assist in supporting the professionals responsible for each function and helping to ensure the desired level of excellence for your school is achieved. The level of effective school operations will be directly related to the ability of this group to function as a team.

Your administrators involved with the school’s advancement efforts should work with the other members of the Leadership Team to support and advocate for the strategic items within the Board’s strategic plan/strategic financial plan. This will clarify their objectives, establish accountability for difference-makers in the life of the school, and ensure support from the Board. We will discuss the importance of how to enable your advancement professionals to optimize the use of resources, provide the best service to students and parents, and drive the strategic function of the school.

Development Sessions

Rethinking (Un)Restricted Annual Giving


  • Differentiate between the annual fund and annual giving
  • Understand the foundational questions that motivate schools to need unrestricted gifts, and motivate donors to give according to their values and interests
  • Learn strategies for raising money annually that is more appealing to your donors, but also helps meet your school’s revenue goals


For many schools, the annual fund exists for a single purpose—to underwrite operating costs and relieve upward pressure on tuition. Traditionally, we ask donors to give unrestricted gifts to offset those costs.

Imagine an annual giving program not designed to balance the budget, but rather designed to offer donors the opportunity to give according to their values and interests. Learn to differentiate between these two approaches, find new ways to approach your case for support, and deepen your relationship with your donors.

How to Capture Data and Get Bigger Gifts


  • Understand the process for continual donor engagement and evaluation
  • Sharpen your interviewing skills to prepare for successful solicitations
  • Be able to create briefing documents that can be used with staff and key volunteers


Development programs thrive when you’re able to turn the facts and figures about your constituents and their giving into actionable information. In this session, we will provide concrete examples of how data impacts identification, engagement, qualification, solicitation, recognition, and stewardship of prospects and donors.

With donor profiles as a guide, we will illustrate the interplay of good data and successful interviewing techniques. With these tools, participants will be ready to create briefing documents that will increase the size of major gifts and improve overall success.

Data Over Dinners: Create and Implement Strategic Stewardship Plans


  • Understand the data-driven elements of a stewardship plan
  • Learn how create customize plans for your most important donors
  • Be able to manage your Leadership Team and School Head to better steward donors at all levels


Attending to donors in appropriate and often highly personal ways deepens their connection to your school and sets the stage for further inspirational giving. The best programs rely on sound procedures and great planning to make certain that donors are well cared for. In this session, we will explore strategies for designing and implementing stewardship plans that consistently engage and support your donors at all levels. This session is appropriate for experienced development professionals and School Heads.

Do You Really Need to Do a Capital Campaign? Re-e-eally?


  • Discover if a capital campaign is the real solution to your fundraising needs
  • Fully understand how the elements of a campaign will directly affect you as well as your school’s faculty, Leadership Team, and constituencies
  • Learn how to analyze your campaign readiness
  • Explore the alternatives to launching a campaign


Most every school at some point will need and seek capital funding to reach their vision. All too often the apparent solution is to immediately launch a capital Campaign. But there are several key questions to ask yourself before launching a campaign.

First, does our school have the financial capacity to reach the goal? Second, do we have the ability to manage a successful campaign? Learn from an experienced campaigner about how to avoid many pitfalls as we help you carefully explore where you are and what should be your next steps to ensure your school’s success.

Before the Ask: Identify, Engage, Evaluate


  • Identify—Learn the steps to take to uncover potential donors; assess their connection, capacity, and intent; and develop strategies to further engage the donor
  • Engage—Discover how to bring your donors into a closer relationship with your school
  • Evaluate—Create methods for evaluating your donor’s values and interests, and how they might align with your school’s mission and strategic goals


This session is a deep dive into the first three steps of the Donor Cycle, ISM’s strategic approach to moving the donor into a closer relationship to the school. This session will examine the process by which development professionals begin the work of discovering potential donors; enhancing relationships with donors; and qualifying their interests, values, and financial resources. Explore strategic approaches to persuade donors to commit resources to your mission and programs.

Donor Retention: Love the Ones You're With!


  • Understand the value proposition of keeping the donors you have
  • Identify engagement strategies to help retain current donors
  • Gain tools to establish a loyal culture of giving at your school


Retaining your current and loyal donors must become an essential part of a robust giving program. These loyal donors are the foundation of your growing annual giving program and provide the best opportunity for growth. This workshop explores the arena of retention strategy—the ability of the school to both develop and appreciate those who give persistently, whether small or large sums. Come and understand why this may be important for your development program and appreciate how to really steward this unheralded but essential group of people.

The Ask and Beyond: Solicit, Recognize, Steward


  • Solicit—Learn how to invite others to invest in your mission through a variety of strategies based on your programs, goals, and volunteer and professional leader resources
  • Recognize—Understand how to show appreciation to donors and honor their generosity
  • Steward—Discover how to keep donors connected to your mission in between solicitations


This session is a deep dive into the second three steps of the Donor Cycle, ISM’s strategic approach to moving the donor into a closer relationship to the school. Examine the process by which development professionals solicit donors, honor their generosity through donor-centered recognition, and maintain long-term relationships with donors based on their interests and values. With ISM’s Donor Cycle as our guide, you will explore strategic approaches to engaging donor support now and sustaining that support until the next ask—and beyond.

Engage Your New Families in Your Culture of Giving


  • Discover the best ways to convert new families into donors
  • Learn how to best assess fresh opportunities within an untested community
  • Explore how to avoid moving too quickly
  • Discuss what other schools have done to maximize opportunities with this potentially target-rich group


As development professionals, we often hear from our admission colleagues that the incoming crop of new families is really going to have a huge impact on the school’s development efforts. Our immediate angst may be how can we best engage them to begin their philanthropic journey? Learn how the most successful development programs identify and involve parents—from the very beginning—to become future leaders in our schools.

Six Other Days of the Week: Reframing Giving Days


  • Consider how and when social media campaigns can boost your fundraising efforts
  • Determine if giving days are right for your school
  • Explore Giving Day (or Giving Week) structures that extend beyond #GivingTuesday


Many schools have adopted 24-hour fundraising challenges as a technique for encouraging greater giving. But the buzz around giving days doesn’t mean they are right for your school. In this session, we will explore the key elements of giving days and the technology that makes them work.

Create a Robust Alumni Program


  • Identify frameworks for defining and tracking alumni at your school
  • Learn strategies for keeping alumni connected to your school and to each other
  • Evaluate your current alumni efforts


The relationship between your school and its alumni is lifelong. Alumni are impacted by school-wide communications and there are opportunities to engage them across every facet of your school. Whether your school is a boarding school with a large and active alumni body or a small K–6 school, a robust alumni relations program can engage your school’s graduates at every phase of their lives.

Your program should be respectful, transparent, and grounded in supporting and fulfilling the mission of your school. This session will provide you with tools to identify and strengthen the lifelong relationships between your alumni and your school. Come and hear from two experienced alumni professionals, one from boarding schools and one from day schools, to gain perspective on some of the most successful practices for both.

The Why of Your Capital Campaign: Write a Compelling Case for Giving


  • Understand how answering the “why” of your capital campaign is the first—and most important—step in writing your Case for Giving
  • Learn the essential elements of a compelling capital campaign Case for Giving
  • Understand who should be involved in the writing and review process


Before you can make the first ask of your capital campaign, you must be able to articulate your why in a way that will inspire your prospective donors. Thinking of starting a campaign? This session will examine the elements you need to write a Case for Giving for your feasibility study or quiet phase that is clear, strategic, and mission-centered. Already in the midst of a campaign? Bring your existing Case for Giving to learn how minor adjustments may enhance your “why” for an even greater impact.

Enrollment Management Sessions

Your Enrollment Management Team: It’s Not Just the Admission Director’s Job


  • Learn why shared responsibility and accountability are essential to enrollment management success
  • Determine who should serve on the Enrollment Management Team at your school and why
  • Identify the types of data your Enrollment Management Team will collect and analyze—and how to use that analysis to inform your Enrollment Management plan


When the private-independent school industry shifted toward enrollment management as a means of ensuring strong recruitment and re-recruitment outcomes, little if anything really changed in the alignment of faculty and staff roles and functions in service of that new mindset. Establishing an enrollment management (retention) team that consists of staff members from all aspects of the school’s operations, particularly those roles/functions that hold primary and direct responsibility for students’ and parents’ day-to-day experience of your school, is a proven strategy that produces measurable re-enrollment results.

Utilize Data to Enhance Enrollment


  • Be able to identify the data that is essential for the recruitment and re-recruitment functions of admission
  • Be able to explain three key conclusions drawn from the interpretation of your own school’s data
  • Understand how to prepare a report, using your own school’s data, to share with your School Head


Data can be a powerful tool. The admission professional can use the right data to build relationships, tell stories, understand strengths and weaknesses, predict opportunities and threats, and much more. However, many individuals struggle to identify what data they need, where they can go to find it, and how to interpret the data once it is found. This workshop will highlight the key sources of data that you can use to plan and execute the recruitment and re-recruitment functions at your school. In order to maximize your experience at this workshop, you should bring or have access to your own school’s data.

Retention Starts Now: Successfully Onboard Your New Families


  • Be able to articulate a compelling reason to engage in strategic onboarding of families
  • Identify mission-aligned opportunities to engage and equip new families and prepare them for joining your community
  • Construct a plan for onboarding families and educating them about all aspects of your school
  • Create a toolbox of resources and strategies that you can bring back to your school


Admission teams spend countless hours recruiting and enrolling new families. Then, once the contract is signed, those parents and students are often left to their own devices and launched into their respective divisions.

In this session, we will explore ways the Admission Office can work with other staff and administrators at your school to ensure a seamless and supportive transition. Begin your retention strategy at the time of enrollment and create raving fans out of your new families!

A Seat at the Table: The Enrollment Management Professional’s Work With the School Head and Board of Trustees


  • Be able to construct a data dashboard that can track key operational and strategic enrollment management metrics
  • Determine how to articulate your own knowledge and expertise that can be utilized at the administrative and trustee level


With tuition revenue accounting for 75% or more of the annual operating revenue at most independent schools, the admission and enrollment management professional steers the recruitment and re-recruitment functions that play a critical role in determining a school’s financial sustainability over both the short and long term. However, many of these professionals have limited access to Board-level strategic discussions that include enrollment projections, tuition setting, financial aid, and more. This workshop will empower professionals to leverage their knowledge and expertise for relevant discussions with implications for today’s students and future generations.

From Fear-Based Decision-Making to Fearlessness—Become a Marketplace Influencer


  • Uncover the truth about today’s private school parents and what they REALLY want
  • Develop an understanding of the psychology behind organizational decision-making in schools
  • Identify the organizational fears that are holding your team back—and craft a plan to overcome them


One of the biggest things holding schools back from making needed shifts in teaching, learning, assessments, and programmatic design is fear that parents will reject the changes. Yet fear-based decision-making often brings to fruition the very pushback you’re trying to avoid.

Reclaim your position as trusted authorities about the development and education of children and adolescents by teaching parents what today’s students need to be well-prepared for tomorrow’s jobs. Learn how to operate from a position of strength, not fear, to position your school as an influencer in the private-independent school marketplace.

Empower Faculty to Be Frontline Recruiters and Re-Recruiters


  • Understand the importance of faculty in recruitment and re-recruitment
  • Learn the preferences and meaningful ways to connect with today’s independent school parents and equip faculty with the knowledge and resources to implement them
  • Construct a plan for communicating with faculty the importance their participation in the retention process
  • Create a toolbox of resources and strategies that you can bring back to your school

Description: Imagine freeing up your Admission Office to serve your inquiries and applicants, rather than chasing down re-enrollments. In this session, we will cover the basics of continuous enrollment AND what to do in subsequent years!

Marketing Communications Sessions

Are Your Marketing Materials Making the Grade?


  • Learn the valuable questions to ask when evaluating marketing materials
  • Discover valuable techniques for creating and working with focus groups
  • Leave with a critical eye for looking at school websites and print materials, and you’ll gain feedback on your own materials


Thinking about the end user should be the first act of a marketing professional. It is easy to get caught up in the process of design, but how does that process connect to your prospective students and parents? In this workshop, you will learn criteria which will allow you to engage collaboratively to evaluate print and website design.

Applying these same principles, your peers will provide you with constructive feedback about your own print and electronic materials. This workshop is for admission, development, and marketing employees who want to have meaningful conversations about connecting with their customers.

Substance Over Style: Reinforce Your Value Proposition With Social Media


  • Explore paid, earned, shared, and owned social media
  • Learn tools, tips, and templates to help you be strategic with social media
  • Be inspired by social media successes from schools of all types and sizes


Given everything you have to manage, posting a photo to Facebook once a day may feel like a social media victory. But if you want to truly engage your alumni, parents, and grandparents, and ultimately attract new students and donors, your efforts should begin with the end in mind. This session will offer content ideas and tactics to ensure every post you make and video you share is strategic and engaging. If your school’s social media feels like “just another thing to do,” join this session to get refocused and inspired.

Innovation for Admission and Development


  • Discover new and exciting tools to use in your advancement efforts
  • Explore new opportunities to engage your constituents through technology
  • Share your best tools and tricks to maximize impact and minimize time


This is an interactive show-and-tell session highlighting the newest and best innovations to help you advance your admission and development efforts! What are the newest concepts in the field of advancement? What are the tried and true tech solutions in the industry? Which tools should you use to engage your donors and prospective families?

We will share our “2019 Best Of” list and seek your ideas in this collaborative session. We will discuss topics like text to give tools, crowdfunding, LinkedIn, alumni networking, prospect research tools, volunteer management, social media tools, admission yield ideas, augmented and virtual reality communications, and even project management software!

Stop Overwhelming Your Families: Creating a Truly Strategic Communication Plan


  • Analyze the communication types and volume from your school
  • Construct a plan for performing a communication audit
  • Develop a communication philosophy to guide future communication decisions
  • Understand the communication preferences of independent school parents


Inbox overload! Our families are inundated with messages from our schools so much so that they are likely tuning out the messages that we most want them to hear. In this session, you will learn about the preferences of independent school parents and about the value of communicating high-level, mission-aligned messages. We will discuss how to decrease the volume of content to increase the impact.

Storytelling Through Video to Drive Enrollment and Giving


  • Leave with a key set of basic video production skills that you can implement at your school
  • Gain increased confidence that enables you to produce influential storytelling videos that will positively impact both enrollment and fundraising


No budget? No problem! We will learn techniques that EVERYONE can apply right away. With your new skills, you will use your smartphone or tablet to create your own mini-productions during the workshop.

This hands-on workshop is ideal for beginners with no knowledge of video production. Discover how to tell your school story told through video for YouTube or social media to drive interest, inquiries, and fundraising efforts.

Create Buzz: Enhance Your Word of Mouth Marketing Efforts Through Ambassador Programs


  • Learn how to articulate a concise, distinguishable, and effective word-of-mouth marketing message for your school
  • Discover how to construct a plan for identifying, recruiting, and training ambassadors at your school
  • Explore how ambassadors and word-of-mouth marketing efforts can be utilized at various stages of the recruitment and re-recruitment cycles
  • Possess a toolbox of resources and strategies that you can bring back to your school


Word-of-mouth referrals typically generate 80-90% of the admission inquiries at private-independent schools. Do you know what people are saying about your school?

As advancement professionals, we must ensure that this critical marketing message is an accurate and compelling one that is voiced and heard by the right people at the right time. One of the primary and most cost-effective methods for doing so is through ambassador programs. These volunteer-based programs are relatively easy to implement and can greatly expand and enhance your school’s unique differentiators throughout various stages of the recruitment and re-recruitment cycles.

Beyond the Open House: Recruitment and Re-Recruitment Events


  • Understand how to measure “high impact” events at your school
  • Be able to plan one new event and amend one current event that will improve your school’s ability to recruit and re-recruit mission-appropriate students and families
  • Learn to make a compelling case for or against hosting traditional open-house-style events
  • Possess a toolbox of recruitment and re-recruitment event ideas to bring back to your school


The competitive landscape is growing and our families have many choices when it comes to schooling options. We often say, “If we could only get them on campus….”. One of the traditional methods to do so has been through an admission-focused open house.

While these types of events may work (or not work) for your school, there other new, innovative tactics that independent schools utilize to draw prospective and current families onto their campus. The goal is simple: Show key parents and students the differentiators that not only set your school apart, but also compel them to enthusiastically enroll and re-enroll each year.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Segment Your Marketing Efforts


  • Understand the concept of market segmentation
  • Explore message mapping as a way to connect with your constituents’ values and needs
  • Discover the best platforms and strategies for cutting through the clutter


Our school’s constituents represent a wide array of generations, values, and communication preferences. So why do we often send out just one message in just one way and assume that it will connect with everyone we serve and seek? This session will examine how to segment your messages and strategies to ensure you are meeting the needs of your constituents while also reaching your school’s enrollment and fundraising goals.

The Online Universe: Can Anyone Find Us?


  • Learn today’s best practices for cultivating an online presence
  • Utilize an online website grading system to quickly formulate your website to-do list


The world of internet marketing has evolved over the last 20 years. Today your school’s website and online presence must be continually refined and polished. Attracting and retaining families requires attention to detail along with a wide variety of platforms.

In this workshop, we will examine the online presence of several schools, and we will evaluate how easy those schools are to discover. We will also examine the latest trends in analytics, content management, social media, and search engine marketing.

Academy Location

Hilton Penns Landing 
201 South Columbus Boulevard 
Philadelphia, PA 19106 

The Hilton Penns Landing on the Delaware River, adjacent to Independence Seaport Museum and summer activities alone the river. It is the walking distance to historic Old City Philadelphia. Subject to availability. Please wait until the workshop status is 'confirmed' before making your travel and hotel arrangements.

Reserve Your Room

The Hilton Penns Landing is pet-friendly. Please contact the hotel for details.


Getting there from Philadelphia International Airport

DIRECTIONS: Take the Philadelphia ramp on the left to merge onto I-95 N. Take exit 20 for Columbus Blvd. Turn left onto S Columbus Blvd. Hotel will be on the right.

Distance from Hotel: 11.7 miles

Drive Time: 15 minutes

Frequently Asked Questions

What does my Academy registration fee include?

The Academy registration fee includes:

  • Academy materials
  • Breakfast (Tuesday through Friday)
  • Lunch (Tuesday throughThursday)
  • Dinner (Monday night)
  • Refreshment breaks (Tuesday through Friday)
  • Social hours (Tuesday and Thursday)
  • Complimentary WI-FI access in the lodging room

Can your team accommodate my dietary needs?

Please let know in advance if you have any special dietary restrictions so that we can work with the executive chef to satisfy your needs.

Can I earn credit for ISM's International Advancement Certification Program by attending the Academy?

You will earn 40 credits towards your IACP certification.

What should I bring?


The dress code is business casual.

Additional items

  • Laptop computer equipped for wireless for your learning sessions.
  • Personal care items
  • Rain gear and umbrella
  • Recreational equipment
  • Comfortable shoes or sneakers
  • Cool and casual clothing
  • Sweater or other warm clothing for sessions (air conditioning in the classrooms may be cool)
  • Extra pens, pencils, paper, business cards

Can I bring my spouse/partner/family member?

Participants should recognize that the Academy requires full attention. Participants are expected to attend all keynotes, mentor groups, and workshops to receive IACP credit and certificates. However, the area has plenty of tourist attractions if a family member, spouse, or partner would like to explore the area. Only participants may attend ISM-sponsored meals.

When should I plan on going home?

The Academy will adjourn at 11:30 am on Friday, following the final celebration and certificate presentation. Note: Certificates only will be given to participants who attend all sessions including keynotes, mentor groups, and workshops.

Confirmation and Cancellation Policy

We will correspond with you through email as soon as your workshop is confirmed, no later than two weeks prior to its start date. Occasionally, we may be forced to cancel an unconfirmed, scheduled workshop due to insufficient registration. So we ask that you do not make non-refundable travel arrangements until you receive notice that your workshop is confirmed. (ISM will not be responsible for any change/cancellation charges assessed by your airline or travel agent.)

Tuition Payment and Cancellation Policy for In-Person, Group-based Programs

Tuition must be paid in full 10 business days prior to the start date of the in-person, group-based program. An attendee with a balance due on the start date will be denied entrance to the program until the balance is paid in full.

Cancellation requests must be made in writing by emailing, faxing to 302-656-0647, or mailing to: Professional Development Coordinator, ISM, 1316 N. Union St., Wilmington, DE, 19806.

  • Cancellations received more than 15 business days prior to the start date of the program will be fully refunded. Gold Dollars will also be fully refunded.
  • There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 15 business days before the start of the program. For registrations paid for with membership Gold Dollars, the member school will receive a 50% refund of Gold Dollars.
  • Non-payment of tuition or no-show to the event does not constitute a cancellation. Full tuition will be due and payable.

The Substitution Option and Wallet Option

Should an attendee need to cancel less than 15 days prior to the start date of the workshop, the school has two options to avoid penalty. Schools may also exercise these options at anytime for cancellations. 

  1. The school may substitute another employee.
  2. The school may bank the funds for a future ISM registration. These funds must be applied to a professional development event within one year from the start date of the original workshop. After one year, the funds will be forfeited. To use banked funds, please call the Professional Development Coordinator at 302-656-4944 x152.

*We DO NOT accept enrollments from consultants.



Advancement Academy Participants Writing on the Board

Our Guarantee

ISM believes in providing quality and excellence in all of our events and in ensuring the satisfaction of everyone who attends. Nearly 100% of our participants say they would recommend our events to their colleagues. If you are not satisfied with your event for any reason, ISM will credit the fee you paid toward another similarly priced workshop or will refund it.

If you have any questions, click below to send us an email. 

West Side Montessori, OH

West Side Montessori, OH

Be Inspired

I had takeaways from every session I was in. The presenters were amazing and so knowledgeable. I can't wait to apply the new tools and Information.

Helena Eddings, Admissions/Marketing Coordinator

Westmark School, CA

Westmark School, CA

Attend With Your Team

"Our team of four (Head of School, Board Chair, Board Advancement Chair and Director of Advancement) all were able to glean and participate in meaningful sessions that we anticipate using over the next year."

Elizabeth Curtis, Director of Advancement

De Smet Jesuit High School, MO

De Smet Jesuit High School, MO

Create Lasting Change

A rich volume of knowledge was shared and it will be helpful going forward. This was a great presentation and I had a wonderful dialogue with other school leaders.

William Rebholz, Vice President of Institutional Advancement

Sign up for the Advancement Academy

Register for your workshop online by filling out the form below. If you are registering with a team from your school, fill out one person’s information below, add it to your cart, and select “Add Another Attendee” from the cart menu.

Advancement Academy Participants Talking
Advancement Academy Participants Talking

Upcoming Workshops and Events

1/27/2020 — 1/31/2020


Student-Centered Scheduling

Status: ConfirmedLocation: Wilmington, DE


7/6/2020 — 7/8/2020


Strategic Financial Planning – A Comprehensive Approach

Status: OpenLocation: Philadelphia, PA


More Offerings

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    Leadership Teams and Managing Up

  • workshop 1/10/2020 — 1/10/2020

    Support Student Success With Faculty Growth and Evaluation Teachers Love!

  • workshop 2/7/2020 — 2/7/2020

    Support Student Success With Faculty Growth and Evaluation Teachers Love!