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Building minds, changing lives

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Each student has their own story and their own dream. Our donors give life to these dreams and truly help build minds and change lives.

Michael
Reardon

''Building minds, changing lives" is not just the tagline for the Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF); it accurately reflects what happens with our students and our schools every day with the support entrusted to us. This year, 4,000 students are attending Catholic schools in the archdiocese because of the generosity of donors to our Inner City Scholarship Fund. The typical student is living with one parent and two siblings and trying to get by on $44,000 a year in one of the most expensive housing markets in the United States.

These families do not have much in the way of financial resources, but what they do have is a belief that a faith-filled, high-quality Catholic education is the answer to breaking the cycle of poverty. Last year, 95 percent of graduating CSF scholars went on to a four-year college and 2 percent went on to two-year colleges. In stark contrast, according the most recent data available from the Massachusetts Department of Education, only 59 percent of economically disadvantaged students matriculated to a four-year college.

Educational attainment is a critical factor in long-term employment and earning potential. A high school dropout is over twice as likely to be unemployed than a college graduate and will earn more than 50 percent less. Over a lifetime, the lack of a quality education has devastating economic consequences.

Statistics demonstrate the profound impact of Catholic schools on economically disadvantaged families, but CSF measures the impact one family at a time. Each student has their own story and their own dream. Our donors give life to these dreams and truly help build minds and change lives. This is most evident in the requests we review for our emergency fund.

In addition to the thousands of students receiving scholarships from CSF, funds are reserved for emergency situations that arise during the year. Situations range from job loss, reduction in hours, or sickness and death of a parent or guardian. CSF regularly reviews these requests and makes a decision based on each unique situation.

Recently, while reviewing a request for a family facing a reduction in hours at work, the address on the application seemed off. In confirming we had the correct address for our records, we discovered the address was for a motel in Boston. The family was homeless and living in a motel. This is not the only family served by Catholic schools facing homelessness. Housing instability is often seen in emergency fund requests. CSF also collaborates with Horizons for Homeless Children to connect families experiencing homelessness to Catholic schools. These families find the stability and community that they need in Catholic schools and the students find a place where they are able to learn and grow.

Building minds and changing lives is why donors entrust their resources to us. They know that their support changes the lives of children from economically challenging backgrounds and gives them opportunity for a better life.

The over 4,000 students receiving scholarships all have their own story, but they also share something. They share the benefit of the opportunity provided to them through a high-quality Catholic education made possible through the support of the donors to the Catholic Schools Foundation. They share the benefit of an excellent education, regardless of which Catholic school they attend, that gives them the tools they need to succeed in life. Their success will be measured not only by a transformed economic trajectory made possible by educational attainment, but also by a deep understanding that they are known and loved by God and have a responsibility to share their gifts with others.

- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.



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