The Pohlad Family today announced a major commitment to keeping urban Catholic elementary schools affordable for young people from economically-disadvantaged families. Through the Minneapolis Foundation and the Catholic Community Foundation, a total of $1 million in tuition assistance will be distributed to nineteen Catholic schools for use during the 2009-2010 school year. The Pohlads plan to continue this million dollar funding each year through 2013-2014.
Archbishop John Nienstedt welcomed the commitment: “The Pohlad family’s quiet giving has focused on providing opportunities that help young people move out of poverty. We are grateful for the family’s recommitment to Catholic education in neighborhoods where poverty has been growing.”
The tuition assistance is to be given to two groups of Catholic schools:
A total of $900,000 will be distributed among twelve schools. All are members of a network called FOCUS (Friends of the Catholic Urban Schools). The schools began cooperating with one another in 2004 to improve teacher recruitment, training, compensation, communications, and fundraising. The schools will receive approximately $750 for each student currently enrolled who is eligible to receive free-or-reduced-cost hot lunch services, a widely recognized measure of family poverty. The schools in this group include: Risen Christ, Pope John Paul II, Ascension, and San Miguel in
Pohlad Family Foundation board member Robert Pohlad commented: “A strong education opens many doors and is the way out of poverty. My family appreciates the efforts of these schools to reach out to children and families who are working toward a better future. My brothers and I thank FOCUS-member schools for their decision to work together to improve the teaching and learning occurring in their buildings.”
The remaining $100,000 will be given as challenge grants to seven other Catholic schools. Each of these schools has at least 20% of their student population that is eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch. The schools are scattered around the Twin Cities: Saint Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center; Saint Jerome in Maplewood; Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights; Maternity of Mary in Saint Paul; Saint Helena in Minneapolis; Saint John Vianney in South Saint Paul; and Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery. Each school will be challenged to raise a proportional share of $50,000 by Easter, 2010 to be eligible for a two-for-one matching gift.