Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Largest foundation gift in Archdiocese’s history: Archdiocese Receives $10 Million Grant to Transform its Inner City Grade Schools

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has received a gift of $10 million as part of a legacy grant that, under certain conditions, could provide the Archdiocese with an additional future $1 million annually, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt announced today.

The gift commitment was made by a family foundation that has asked to remain anonymous.

The initial $10 million commitment is restricted to providing financial stability for the Catholic elementary inner city schools of the Archdiocese and was made in honor of recently retired Archbishop Harry J. Flynn.

It is believed to be the largest foundation gift in the 157 year history of the Archdiocese, Nienstedt added.

The foundation was formed by a couple who have worshipped in parishes of the Archdiocese for the past 50 years. Their foundation made the gift in the hopes that it will act as an incentive to other individuals, corporations and foundations to help the Archdiocese transform the 15 inner city Catholic schools.

A letter from the foundation that transmitted the news of the grant said, “The board agrees that the Catholic inner city schools play a critical role in the lives of many young people and their families and that these schools may be the single most significant factor in many students’ future success in education and in life.”

The initial $10 million to be paid over the next decade will be used by the Archdiocese to build a model elementary school curriculum based upon best practices in English, math, science and religious teaching. It will also provide for creation of a program to increase qualified teachers’ salaries and will provide substantial scholarship assistance to retain advanced students and to create the Harry Flynn Bootstrap Scholarship Program that will provide needed assistance to other students in desperate financial need.

“This extraordinarily generous grant will be a lifeline for many of our inner city Catholic schools. Generous as it is, however, it cannot, without significant generosity from other organizations and individuals solve the financial challenges of our urban schools” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “Due to the changing demographics and income levels in our core cities, the outflow of families to the suburbs and the influx of low income families, the 15 inner city schools that will benefit from this grant have lost a combined total of 500 students who could not afford to remain in our schools. Of those students who remain in these schools, 1,200 of them are from families whose incomes qualify as being at the poverty level. What a blessing this gift, and others like it, will be to these students and their families!”

Two years ago, to deal with the financial challenges facing its 15 inner city Catholic grade schools, the Archdiocese, in cooperation with the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, created a not-for-profit organization called FOCUS (Friends of Urban Catholic Schools). Since then, FOCUS has worked closely with these schools, assisting them in their administrative and development efforts. “This grant will enable the Archdiocese to accelerate those efforts,” Nienstedt said.

The fifteen inner city Catholic schools are: Ascension, Pope John Paul II, Risen Christ, San Miguel, and St. Elizabeth Seton, all in Minneapolis; St. Raphael’s in Crystal; Blessed Trinity in Richfield; Sacred Heart School in Robbinsdale; St. Agnes, St. Bernard’s, St. Francis-St. James United, St. Matthew and St. Peter Claver, all in Saint Paul; St. Michael in West Saint Paul and Trinity School in South St. Paul.

Archbishop Emeritus Harry J. Flynn expressed “great joy” over the grant and the honor he feels in having the grant made in his name. He called the grant, “a powerful testament to the unique value of Catholic schools.

“America owes a large debt of gratitude to the Catholic schools that were established by men and women religious in virtually all of our great cities many decades and even centuries ago,” Flynn added. “Our schools provided poor and immigrant children with the education and values that were to make them successful in commerce, politics, science and the arts. This gift will help us continue that tradition of faith-based quality education for today’s immigrant and inner city children.”

God Bless That Family!

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