A Community of Giving and Gratitude Philanthropy at The Bush School
For close to 100 years, The Bush School has continued to thrive because of clear guiding principles, outstanding teaching, dedicated students and families, strong leadership, a commitment to philanthropy, and placing children at the center of all we do.

The role of philanthropy at The Bush School is to advance the mission—to spark in students of diverse backgrounds and talents a passion for learning, accomplishment, and contribution to their communities. Philanthropy is integral to delivering on Bush’s promise to provide a meaningful and transformative education to students now and into the future.

At Bush, the culture of philanthropy is defined by gifts and care from many sources and in many forms—some are time, some are expertise, some are donations. They represent our collective belief that education is the greatest gift you can give.  We honor every volunteer, donor, partner, and community member. We are grateful for every gift of every form and every size. At Bush, philanthropy is a big umbrella and our goal is for everyone to know they are welcome and feel a sense of belonging.

Helen Bush

The Building of a

School and


Philanthropy at The Bush School


In the fall of 1924, The Bush School began its journey in the Dorffel Drive House. Founder Helen Bush converted her family home into classrooms and six children attended preschool and kindergarten.


In 1925, a first grade was added, and the school grew grade by grade each year after that. The House continued to adapt to the burgeoning needs of the school.


In 1929, The Bush School expanded to a K-6 school and was officially recognized as a non-profit organization. A Board of Trustees was elected and charged with governance of the school.


As the school grew in size, so did the physical and financial needs of the program. In the 1930’s, Lenore McGrath Ostrander, one of the school’s first parents and an early trustee, loaned the school her lakefront home for dormitory use. This gift from the Ostrander family was the first of many philanthropic deeds from the community in support of The Bush School and its commitment to progressive education.


In 1933, eighty-one students were enrolled at The Bush School. Despite the lack of funding and due to the generous nature of Helen Taylor Bush, eleven students attended The Bush School tuition free and fourteen students paid only half of the school’s $400 annual tuition.


In 1944, the iconic Gracemont building was donated to The Bush School by Grace Heffernan Arnold. Philanthropic support and the school’s footprint continued to grow.


In 1947, the Lower School gymnasium was completed thanks to a generous donation by the estate of Frank Reed. The new building was named Reed Hall in memory of the three Reed sons, all Parkside students, who died with their parents in a tragic fire in 1942.


Beginning in the 1950’s, through the combined efforts of alumni and parents, a stable source of scholarship funding was established. By 1967, the scholarship endowment totaled $15,000 and $4,350 in financial aid was awarded to seven students.


In the 1970’s, the Board of Trustees launched a five-year capital campaign that successfully raised $1.2 million.


By 1972, the endowment increased to $202,000, helping expand need-based financial aid funding for additional students.


In 1978, The Bush School was awarded a $50,000 grant by the Edward E. Ford Foundation, in support of faculty professional development. The grant was later renamed the George W. Taylor endowment, and established a sabbatical for teachers at Bush.


In 1980, an annual school raffle introduced by Bush faculty, students and volunteers later evolved into a major auction. In 1986, the school’s first formal auction was held at the Seattle Trade Center and successfully raised over $100,000.


By 1986, the community raised $3.3 million over the course of 14 years and two capital campaigns. These funds were allocated to an endowment for faculty compensation, Gracemont upgrades, construction of the Commons, a new gym, an art building, administrative offices, Benaroya Hall, and the urban courtyard.


In 1997, a capital campaign was launched for a new Science and Technology building on the Upper Campus. Through the generosity of the Bush community nearly $7 million dollars was raised to fund the completion of Wissner Hall.


At the end of 2001, a capital campaign was launched to build new facilities and revitalize The Bush Lower School Campus.


In 2004-2005, the community bid farewell to the old campus classrooms, playing field, library, and gym, and construction of the new Lower School buildings began.


In 2006, the new Lower School campus was completed. Students moved into modernized classrooms and played on an all weather turf field and playground; families could park in the new parking garage, and the community could gather in a beautiful space.


In 2011, the Every One of Us Campaign concluded, having raised over $28 million from more than 700 donors for the Lower School renovations, $3.3 million of which was designated for Bush’s endowment.


In 2016, Bush acquired a twenty-acre campus and educational facility in Mazama, WA. Located in the region known as the Methow Valley, this campus provides students with immersive educational and outdoor learning experiences.


In 2017-18, the Bush community celebrated important milestones collectively giving over $1 million to the Annual Fund and over $500,000 at Celebrate Bush to support financial aid.


In 2018-2019, 140 donors gave $16.8 million to the Connecting to Place capital campaign to support the design and construction of the New Upper School Building.


In 2020, construction of the New Upper School Building began. This new building prioritizes Bush’s focus on environmental sustainability; it is the first Salmon Safe school in Seattle, the first Passive-House school in the West, and one of the first Net Zero Energy school buildings in the nation. The new building is scheduled to open for classes and activities in early 2022.

The spirit of philanthropy continues to thrive and mirror the generosity and focus of our earliest school community members: to deliver an outstanding experiential education program, to engender a supportive and inclusive community, and to create intentional and diverse spaces so that all feel inspired and connected to place.

Giving and gratitude are central to who we are. Every gift makes a difference.

Giving At Bush

Supports Teaching And Learning Now And Into the Future.


The Annual Fund Family Campaign is the philanthropic priority of The Bush School and all gifts to it support the school’s annual operating budget.  The Annual Fund takes place for six weeks in the fall beginning in October. Every family is encouraged to make a contribution to the Annual Fund in an amount that is meaningful to them. The collective generosity of our entire community—alumni, parents, grandparents, parents/guardians of alumni, and friends—makes a difference in the life of each student and teacher.

Annual Fund Giving Levels
Helen Taylor Bush
Team 1924
Up to $999


Along with the Annual Fund, Celebrate Bush is a major fundraiser for the school. Every year, families, faculty, staff, alumni, parents/guardians of alumni, and grandparents come together in support of our community and to broaden accessibility to experiential education for a greater number of families. Since 2014, all proceeds raised at Celebrate Bush have directly supported financial aid.


  • Endowments are assets invested by the school to support the education mission in perpetuity. They are: charitable funds that offer a source of stability for schools.
  • critical to the financial health of institutions.
  • essential to support institutions as they work to offer high-quality, affordable, accessible education.
  • a compilation of funds given by many donors over time, for specific purposes or general support in perpetuity
  • a compact between the donor and The Bush School and links past, current, and future generations.


The Bush School receives returns on endowment investments each year to support specific uses outlined by the donor and agreed upon by the school, current teaching, learning, and operational needs; any remaining investment returns are generally reinvested into the existing endowment.

Total spending of the endowment funds for any given fiscal year is capped at five percent (5%) of the average market value of the funds, unless otherwise approved by the Board of Trustees.


Capital campaigns are specific, one-time fundraising initiatives to support strategic priorities identified by the Board of Trustees such as campus improvements, new buildings, and endowment growth. Pledges to a campaign are often paid over three to five years, and the school endeavors to meet donors’ philanthropic goals and timelines.  Every Bush campaign has propelled our school forward, meeting the needs of current and future generations of students.


Planned giving allows donors to have a lasting impact on education at The Bush School and works to keep Helen Bush’s dream alive. By designating The Bush School in your will, living trust, or beneficiary designations, you help ensure that the legacy of experiential education nurtured by Helen Bush’s vision continues to grow for generations to come.


Many employers sponsor matching gift programs and will match any charitable contributions or volunteer hours made by their employees. Matching your gift with the help of your employer augments the impact of your gift to The Bush School. 


All contributions made to The Bush School are tax deductible, based on the IRS guidelines. Please check with your personal tax advisor for specifics regarding your individual circumstances.


The relationships among the Bush community have continuously helped students prosper and achieve their academic dreams. Whether it involves volunteering in the classroom or helping in the admissions office, engaging with the community enhances the lives of our students, faculty, and staff. There are many ways to get and stay connected with families, students and faculty. Every Fall, the Bush Families Association hosts an event for all parents/guardians who are interested in pursuing volunteer opportunities. Please scroll down to learn more about ways to volunteer at The Bush School.


The Bush School Families Association (FA) mission is to promote awareness, a sense of belonging and participation at Bush. The FA nurtures a spirit of involvement and community between the school and its families by providing opportunities to support school events and activities. Every enrolled family is a member of the FA, and all FA meetings are open for parents and guardians to attend. 

The FA also serves as a key channel of communication for parent concerns, providing families with information about the school, its philosophy, programs, methods, and operations.


What is an affinity group and why are they important?

The National Association of Independent Schools asserts that, “The overarching vision for affinity group work includes:

  • facilitating opportunities for affirming, nurturing, and celebrating lived experience;
  • discussing issues related to racial/ ethnic identity development in a safe environment where people who share that racial or ethnic identity can generate community, fellowship, and empowerment; and
  • envisioning and sharing strategies for greater racial and ethnic diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools and communities.”


To learn more about ways to give, either through charitable donations or gifts of time, please contact Director of Development and Strategic Initiatives Sharon Hurt at 206-326-7779 or email at sharon.hurt@bush.edu.  You may also visit Bush.edu/giving.


Families Association Summer Meet Ups 

Check the school calendar or connect with your Division VP or Division Grade reps!

Families Association Grade Level Socials

Check the school calendar or connect with your Division VP or Division Grade reps!

Families Association Meetings

Check the school calendar

Virtual New Families Gathering


Virtual Convocation


Virtual Families Association Connections Events


Back to School Nights


Annual Fund Kick-Off


Parent University 


Parent-Teacher Conferences




Celebrate Bush


Simply Cultural