$100K grant to benefit PJPII Academy

The new Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy, serving Dorchester and Mattapan, has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest charitable community foundations.

The grant comes as a boost for the Campaign for Catholic Schools (CCS), which aims to raise $68 million to cover construction and renovation costs at the school’s five campuses as well the Teen Center at St. Peter’s in Dorchester. CCS currently has commitments of $47.2 million toward meeting that goal.

Kathleen F. Driscoll, the president of CCS, said the grant will be put toward increasing student academic achievement through the implementation of a comprehensive professional development program for its teachers. The academy aims to build teacher leadership capacity and to improve literacy in reading, writing, and mathematics.

“The intent is to establish a culture where professional conversations take place about student learning throughout the academy at all levels,” Driscoll said of the K-8 school.

She added that through the new professional development program, “Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy will build a system and infrastructure that includes a set of instructional approaches that incorporate high standards, clear expectations for learning goals, collaborations among teachers, and a system of ongoing assessment and monitoring of student learning.”

Mary Russo, the school’s regional director, received word of the grant in December.

“It was a wonderful Christmas present to all of us,” she said.

“Our students will benefit most from this grant because their teachers will be more confident about their teaching and will be using exceptionally effective instructional practices,” said Russo. “There is no better determinant of a student’s success than excellent instruction in the classroom,” she said.

The Campaign for Catholic Schools, founded in 2007, is an outgrowth of the 2010 Initiative for Catholic Education, working to raise the private philanthropic support needed to rebuild Catholic schools in Greater Boston.

According to Russo, “One of the greatest things about the Boston Foundation is that they are grant makers who actually work with the grantees to make sure that the proposal is carried out and, further, that it is done well.”

The Boston Foundation has done so much through the years for the deserving children of Dorchester, Mattapan and neighboring areas in Boston and beyond. This latest award to Catholic schools is just one more way of giving under served children a chance for a brighter future, said Driscoll.

The school began implementing its three year long program earlier this month.