Happy New Year! As we look back on 2021, it has certainly been a year of positive transition for Catholic education on Long Island. Despite pandemic-induced challenges that still exist, our schools and the children we serve have thrived. They have continued to shine as exemplary members of our community and are proof of the resiliency of Catholic elementary schools.
As His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan stated in his speech at Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation’s Christmas event in December: “Catholic schools provide a sense of hope that light will always conquer darkness.”
And the future looks bright with many factors in play buoying the momentum, particularly the Morning Star Initiative. This $10 million campaign was launched two years ago to strengthen Long Island’s Catholic elementary schools by restoring a robustly Catholic culture, academic excellence, and making the schools more sustainable.
In May 2021, Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation began to serve as the fundraising partner in this initiative, which is being led by the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Department of Education and the Marianists, specifically Bro. Thomas Cleary, S.M., President of Chaminade High School, in his role as Chief Revitalization Officer. The DRVC this week also announced the appointment of Karen Greve Milton as the Department of Education’s Chief Executive Officer. “Karen Milton’s multi-faceted executive management and leadership expertise will enable MSI to continue to execute its plan of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the great gift of Catholic education in the Diocese of Rockville Centre,” said Bishop John Barres in a statement. Click here for the full press release.
And sustainability can only occur with your continued generosity. To date, the campaign has raised more than $3.4 million in major gifts and grassroots support. The impact of the MSI funds raised is already being realized through long-term investments in tuition assistance, technology, academics, recruitment/enrollment, and school leaders and teachers.
Most recently, key funding was disbursed to Our Lady of Guadalupe School and Holy Name of Mary School, both pilot programs with a new approach to governance, school oversight, and strategic planning to achieve sustainability. Holy Name received $50,000 to fund a new math program. And Our Lady of Guadalupe received a large grant that enabled its entire faculty to take part in extensive professional development through Boston College, fund its after-school program, and purchase instructional technology. For more information, click here.
A $750,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation enabled the purchase and distribution last spring of more than 2,000 learning devices and interconnectivity services that were distributed to underserved families. In addition, more than $700,000 in MSI funds provided tuition assistance to students in need. Some of the other key distributions include $387,000 in funds to implement iReady, an online program for reading and math that helps teachers determine the needs of their students, which yielded a considerable increase in math and reading scores during the 2020-2021 school year despite the challenges of distance learning.
All of these investments are so critical in advancing Catholic elementary school on Long Island. Your support matters now and long after the $10 million goal is reached. We will continue to need your participation in subsequent years to ensure that all Long Island children will have the opportunity to receive a high-quality Catholic education despite their family’s socioeconomic status. Consistent funding will have a transformative impact on all the Catholic elementary schools, and I ask that you continue to assist us in this important endeavor.