Catholic Charities clarifies role in public school partnership

BRAINTREE -- Clarifying recent media reports, Catholic Charities President Tiziana Dearing said her organization is not funding a partnership with Boston's public schools and other public charities and philanthropic foundations. Instead, Dearing said, her organization is playing an advisory role.

Under the partnership, called the Boston Opportunity Agenda, Catholic Charities is working with Boston's public schools, the Boston Foundation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley to improve public education at all levels by setting a new national standard for collaboration through establishing a shared set of measurable goals accountable through reporting.

Leading funders of the partnership include the Barr Foundation, Beal Companies, Eos Foundation, Myra and Robert Kraft Family Foundation, Nellie Mae Foundation, and New Profit, Inc.

The Boston Opportunity Agenda was announced June 22 at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Dorchester. The event was hosted by Boston mayor Thomas Menino and school superintendent Carol Johnson.

A combined $27 million has been committed to the project. Dearing said Catholic Charities is the only non-donor agency participating in the partnership. Instead, Dearing said Catholic Charities will continue the advisory role they have had during the longstanding development of the partnership.

"It's just fantastic that there is a table and Catholic Charities is at it when we discuss what is important to children and families," Dearing said. "Catholic Charities has been and will continue aiding in the discussion."

Goals of the partnership include investing in programs to address needs in early childhood education, out-of-school time, parent engagement, and college preparation. Specifically, the partnership would seek to build a solid early educational foundation to allow for success at future levels, get students consistently on track for high school graduation, establish high school graduation as a standard measure for achievement, and encourage post secondary attainment with a minimum of an associate's degree.