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BOSTON -- Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF) Trustee, Richard J. Henken of The Schochet Companies, has agreed to increase his support through a matching gift challenge. Through Dec. 31, Henken will match all new or increased gifts dollar-for-dollar, up to $50,000, to bridge the gap of unmet financial needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and double the impact of year-end gifts.
"A good education has the potential to make all the difference in the lives of so many of our children," said Henken. "Catholic schools provide incredible opportunities for so many economically disadvantaged kids, including many new arrivals to this country. Offering an excellent education in a loving, faith-based environment is critical for inner-city students."
The proceeds of this donation match will go directly to low-income students in the form of scholarships to high-quality Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. Through it's signature program, the Inner-City Scholarship Fund (ICSF), CSF distributes over 4,000 scholarships each year.
Since the start of the pandemic, CSF has provided over $1 million in additional scholarship aid and support, including $508,000 in emergency scholarships, $168,000 in new guaranteed scholarships, and $500,000 to Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School and Cristo Rey Boston High School. The two Cristo Rey schools, whose corporate work study programs defray the cost of students' tuition, suffered a major loss in revenue due to COVID-19 shutting down the majority of their work-study partnerships.
"The students we support and their families have been hit hardest by the pandemic," said Mike Reardon, executive director of CSF. "Many of these students' parents work wage-based jobs and have experienced job loss or reduced hours due to COVID-19. It is through the generosity of donors like Rick Henken that we are able to continue providing stability in the lives of these students. However, the need is still great, and through this match we hope to begin bridging the gap, to ensure that every child has a fair shot at an excellent education."
The total median income for the average CSF beneficiary is $39,000 for a family of four. Eighty percent of these students come from diverse ethnic backgrounds and 63 percent come from single-parent homes. Cities like Everett, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Brockton, Revere, Malden, and Boston are home to many CSF students that have struggled academically and economically. Once students enter the CSF scholarship program, the outcomes improve significantly -- 100 percent of CSF Scholars graduate from high school, with 98 percent matriculating to college.
Local Catholic schools are providing an effective, in-person alternative to their public school counterparts. A majority of the Catholic schools within the Archdiocese of Boston have been holding class in-person since the beginning of the school year, with minimal cases of COVID-19. These schools have brought on some high praise throughout Massachusetts, most notably from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
"We have one of the best active demonstrations about in-person learning going on anywhere right now, which is parochial schools," said Gov. Baker.