Alumna Makes Transformational Gift to Visual Arts

Magnificat High School Receives $2 Million Gift for the Arts from Brittan Burke DiSanto ’79 and Fred DiSanto
Largest Gift in School History Arrives Amid National Uptick in Philanthropy Supporting Girls and Women
Rocky River, OH | October 27, 2021 – Magnificat High School President Moira Clark ’77 announced today that alumna Brittan Burke DiSanto ’79 and husband Fred DiSanto have donated $2 million—the largest gift in school history—to fund the transformation of Magnificat’s visual arts wing. 

“Creativity and self expression are valuable, lifelong skills cultivated through the arts. Our gift will provide an inspiring and collaborative visual arts environment, which supports the excellent, comprehensive education that Magnificat delivers to young women in our community,” said Brittan DiSanto. As an artist and teacher herself, Brittan’s support for Magnificat High School highlights not only her passion for visual arts but her appreciation for the Magnificat education she received.

A girls’ Catholic high school founded in 1955 by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, Magnificat has been making significant campus and programmatic investments in recent years to support the school’s comprehensive, college-preparatory curriculum. The science facilities were renovated and reconfigured last year to foster greater interdisciplinary, STEM, and robotics education, and the DiSanto Family gift will drive comparable advancement in the visual arts by expanding instruction space, modernizing facilities, and providing new equipment. Current art classrooms have grown inadequate for the broad spectrum of courses now offered, which span varying levels of clayworks, metals, photography, and studio art, along with AP 2D Art & Design: Photography, AP Art & Design, and AP Art History for the roughly 400 students who take visual art classes each year. 

The unprecedented donation from the DiSantos arrives during a national uptick in philanthropy supporting girls and women, which grew 36.4% from 2012 to 2017 according to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Philanthropic leaders such as Melinda French Gates have argued that investments in women and gender equity yield high returns. In terms of educational outcomes, research demonstrates that young women achieve a higher level of academic success in an all-girl educational setting and graduates of single-gender schools have heightened career aspirations.

“This extraordinary gift from Brittan and Fred DiSanto is a testament to the importance of our mission to educate young women holistically,” President Moira Clark said. “The new space will open up endless opportunities for our talented students, and the Magnificat Community is deeply grateful for the DiSantos’ incredibly generous support.” 

The visual arts wing will be designed by educational architects Fielding International in partnership with Payto Architects, both of whom are renowned for creating open and inviting learning environments that foster creativity, collaboration, and interdisciplinary learning. Regency Construction Services—the woman-owned company that oversaw the Sisters of the Humility of Mary Center for Science Exploration & Innovation renovation in 2020—will manage the transformation of the new wing. Construction will begin in May and will be completed by August in time for the 2022-2023 school year. “The impact that the DiSantos’ transformational gift will have on our school will be felt for many generations to come and is an inspiration to the entire Magnificat Community,” said Board Chairperson Colleen Moran O’Neil ’88. 

Photo courtesy of Case Western Reserve University.
Magnificat High School, a girls' Catholic college-preparatory high school, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, educates young women holistically to learn, lead, and serve in the spirit of Mary’s Magnificat.