Donors can help struggling families afford tuition at a K-8 school in the Archdiocese of Detroit this fall, thanks to Catholic Foundation

DETROIT — Individuals interested in helping less fortunate families afford a Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Detroit have a new option, thanks to two new competitive scholarship funds for the 2020-21 academic year.

The St. Anne Scholars Fund and the St. Martin de Porres Scholarship Fund will assist K-8 students attending an archdiocesan school this fall, said Christina Shabo, project director for the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, which is administering the funds.

“With the impact of COVID-19, we realized that a lot of families already struggling to afford Catholic school might not be able to return” without financial help, Shabo said.

Give to the St. Anne Scholars fund via the Catholic Foundation of Michigan

The foundation wasn’t planning to start a scholarship program this year, but was approached by the Archdiocese of Detroit and private donors who saw a need during the coronavirus crisis, Shabo said.

“We weren’t anticipating starting a scholarship fund in August before school started, but we realized there are a lot of donors who want to be able to support these families who have been impacted greatly by COVID-19, as well as families who were struggling before that,” she said. “Those who are able to give are wanting to give generously in greater ways than they have before.”

Because of the short window before the school year begins, this year’s scholarship applications are by invitation only. Pastors and principals can nominate up to three students, who must then apply by Aug. 16. Between 10 and 20 students will receive awards of up to $5,000, and recipients will be notified by Aug. 30.

Students play with a Nativity set at Our Lady of Sorrows School in Farmington in this file photo. The new scholarships are open to families who demonstrate financial need and a desire for Catholic education at one of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s K-8 schools. (Marek Dziekonski | Special to Detroit Catholic)

“We’re looking for students who have this excitement for learning and a desire not only to go to a Catholic school, but to be part of a Catholic community,” Shabo said. “The families who have applied so far have shown us that they’ve gone through a lot of struggle, not just financially, but also in overcoming adversity.”

The St. Anne Scholars program is available to any student who demonstrates financial need and a desire to attend an archdiocesan K-8 school, Shabo said.

The St. Martin de Porres Scholarship also will benefit students attending a K-8 archdiocesan school, but is specifically geared toward students who have an interest or involvement in Latin American communities.

The funds are the first scholarships managed by the Catholic Foundation, which also administers donor-advised funds, endowments and charitable contributions for a variety of Catholic organizations.

“We have a number of tuition assistance programs, but these are true scholarships,” said Angela Moloney, president and CEO of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan. “Now that it’s created, individuals can give in a small amount, such as $25 or $100. They don’t need to create the scholarship themselves.”

Both scholarships were the result of donor initiative, and the foundation is open to creating additional scholarships based on donors’ goals, such as tuition assistance for students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or the arts, Moloney said.

“We had a family create something special with the St. Martin de Porres scholarship, and that was unique to the family’s desires and needs and intentions,” Moloney said. “That’s a unique gift we can offer to the community.”

Of the 27,000 Catholic school students in the Archdiocese of Detroit, about 4,000 applied for financial assistance last year, which shows a great need to support Catholic education, Moloney said. Next year, the foundation intends to open the scholarship programs to a wider pool of applicants with more time to apply.

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron has emphasized that Catholic education is the responsibility of all the faithful, not just those with children in school, Shabo said.

“Growing up, my dad really wanted me to go to Catholic school, but it was so expensive,” Shabo said. “There are a lot of families who struggle. This is a beautiful opportunity for us to say, ‘If I have the means to send a child — a little me — to a Catholic school, I want to be able to do that.’

“It’s sometimes worth remembering those stories. You’re not just giving dollars to a program. You’re helping a cute little kid have the ability to grow in their faith and be nurtured in a way that we all wish for this generation.”

How to give

Donors give in any amount to the St. Anne Scholars Fund or the St. Martin de Porres Scholarship by visiting the Catholic Foundation of Michigan’s website, calling (248) 204-0332 or mailing a check to the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, 1145 W. Long Lake Road, Suite 201, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302.