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In response to the continuing and evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF) announced this month that it is launching a new weekly process to allocate $500,000 in additional emergency or guaranteed scholarship aid for the 2020-2021 school year. This funding will help schools meet the needs of current and new students and promote robust enrollment for the start of the school year.
Through its signature program, the Inner-City Scholarship Fund (ICSF), CSF distributes over 4,100 scholarships per year for low-income students to attend high-quality Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston.
In addition, it allocates a portion of its budget to one-time, emergency scholarships to students and families facing extenuating circumstances like job loss, homelessness, death, and more. In the 2019-2020 school year, CSF distributed $825,000 from its emergency fund, more than two times its average distribution. The increased emergency fund distribution was in response to the COVID-19 crisis that began in March.
Under normal circumstances, CSF's emergency fund opens in October. However, offering additional funds in July during the COVID-19 crisis will allow schools to be responsive immediately to families' needs. In a typical year, CSF awards $300,000 of its budget to the emergency fund, but pledging significant, additional funds now, CSF will be able to meet the needs of the low-income families they serve.
After noting schools were using more funds at a higher rate than in years past to retain current students impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, CSF also revamped their process for guaranteed scholarships. This will allow schools to retain current students and welcome new families as well.
"Our school leaders are doing incredible work supporting families and ensuring students have a safe place to learn and thrive this fall," said Megan Adzima, allocations director at the Catholic Schools Foundation. "As part of this, CSF knows it is crucial to meet families' short- and long-term financial needs through additional scholarships and provide stability for those families. CSF is proud to partner with our schools to provide this additional support to our students."
Catholic schools across the archdiocese are working tirelessly to be prepared for school opening in the fall, including ordering necessary personal protective equipment, implementing the state's final re-opening guidelines, and working one-on-one with families to help students enroll.
"In a moment where the future feels uncertain, it is absolutely vital that we, with the support of our generous community, make a multi-year commitment to our student scholars," said Mike Reardon, executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation.
"With the support of our donors we can obtain the additional resources that will help guarantee their enrollment in the upcoming school year and into the future so that there is a clear pathway to college. A pathway that starts and ends with a Catholic education, within a school they love," Reardon added.