Donors respond generously after new programs established in August, sending 63 local students to Catholic schools this fall, foundation says

DETROIT — Just weeks after announcing the creation of two new scholarship programs, the Catholic Foundation of Michigan has awarded more than $150,000 to help local families afford a Catholic education, the foundation announced Sept. 10.

Thanks to the St. Anne Scholars and St. Martin de Porres scholarship programs, which were announced in August, 63 Catholic school students in the Archdiocese of Detroit will receive aid for the 2020-21 academic year, the foundation said.

Angela Moloney, president and CEO of the Catholic Foundation, credited the generosity of donors, including the Archdiocese of Detroit, with rallying to make the scholarships possible in such a short time frame.

“As a parent, I understand the stress of returning to school this year is more overwhelming than ever,” Moloney said. “When one adds on the economic challenges that many families are facing due to the pandemic, we knew we needed to help and make it easy for students to get the support they needed. Our mission is to bring generous people together to make a positive impact in our community.”

The awards will benefit students at 23 different schools. Five of the awards were between $4,000 and $5,000, the highest amount awarded, while the majority were between $1,500 and $2,500.

A student gathers his supplies at Our Lady of the Lakes School in Waterford on Aug. 25. 

“With the impact of COVID-19, the Catholic Foundation realized that many families already struggling to afford Catholic school might not be able to return without financial help,” said Christina Shabo, Catholic Foundation project director.

Because of the tight time frame, pastors and principals this year were invited to nominate students to apply for the scholarships. The foundation received requests for more than $300,000 in aid, and donors are still invited to support those requests.

“Participating in the scholarship program for Catholic schools was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done,” said Helen Vlasic, whose family contributed to the St. Martin de Porres Scholarship fund. “I was so moved by families who are committed to providing a Catholic education for their children. In particular, the sacrifices they made to send their children to Catholic school and the personal commitments made to support their parish.”

Two students at Gesu School in northwest Detroit were among those who received aid, said Anita Sevier, a staff member at the school.

“Without this scholarship, each of these students would have experienced a more disruptive year than it already is,” Sevier said. “Gesu School is very happy to have these students with us virtually right now and we are very grateful for the Catholic Foundation's support in keeping these students at Gesu.”

Anthony Schena, chairman of the Catholic Foundation’s grant and impact committee, said the committee was “amazed” at the faith of parents who applied for the scholarships on behalf of their children.

“In the face of tremendous challenges their faith in God gives them strength to prevail,” Schena said. “These parents want their children to be surrounded by that same faith every day and are willing to make any level of personal sacrifice to keep their children in Catholic schools.”

Those interested in contributing to the scholarship funds, or one of more than 40 other charitable funds for Catholic education, can visit CatholicFoundationMichigan.org to make a gift.