Collaborative effort promotes Catholic schools

BOSTON — The Catholic Schools Office of the archdiocese with the help of the Catholic Schools Foundation, the Lynch Foundation and area Catholic colleges has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the value and affordability of a Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Boston.

This is the first time that all of these organizations have collaborated on such a campaign.

Under the theme “Your Hope. Our Passion. Their Future,” the effort will highlight the value and accessibility of a Catholic education with the goal of boosting enrollment in Catholic schools — an enrollment that has been declining in recent years, said Sister Kathleen Carr, superintendent of the schools.

“The Catholic schools are an integral part of the mission of the Church in the Archdiocese of Boston, and they are proven vehicles through which we can form children in our faith as well as provide a strong academic program,” she said.

Research has shown that the majority of students with a Catholic education go on to be productive members of society who are involved in the life of the Church, she added.

In addition, Catholic school students score above the national average on standardized tests and almost all go on to pursue higher education, according to the Catholic Schools Foundation.

The enrollment campaign also aims to educate parents on the availability of tuition assistance in many circumstances.

“We need to get the word out that these schools are a viable option for any family,” said Carolyn Lynch, president of the Lynch Foundation which funds innovative programs in the areas of education, health care, religion, and arts and sciences

“Our inner-city Catholic schools have an outstanding record of achievement, yet they are often under-populated because parents are unable to afford tuition or are unfamiliar with the schools in their neighborhood,” she added.

The campaign comes as the archdiocese is in the beginning stages of its 2010 Initiative — a strategic planning process that hopes to improve, strengthen and revitalize Boston’s Catholic schools before the close of this decade.

“As we continue our efforts to strengthen and revitalize our Catholic school system, we hold high our goal of making a Catholic school education available, accessible and affordable so that all children have an opportunity to learn within a faith-filled and value-based environment,” said Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley.

Five area Catholic colleges — Boston College, Emmanuel College, Merrimack College, Regis College and Stonehill College — have offered to assist the campaign by providing marketing resources and expertise.

A poster campaign, radio and print advertisements, billboards and MBTA advertisements were rolled out during Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 29-Feb. 4.

Sister Kathleen said the Catholic Schools Office is grateful for the assistance in this marketing campaign from Lynch Foundation and Catholic colleges. The office used to run an enrollment campaign each year, but ended the program five years ago and has not had the resources to reinstate it, she added.

So far the effort has been successful in reaching its target audience, but its true success will be measured over time, according to BC spokesman Jack Dunn.

Boston College has supported Catholic and public school outreach through the Lynch School of Education for many years. The college has provided both volunteers and teacher training, he said.

“We believe in Catholic education— I think all the Catholic colleges and universities would say that. We’re always willing to help,” he added.