Program investing $1M into Parochial education

January 30, 2009 6:55:40 PM PST
In these difficult economic times it has become harder for some families to keep their children in parochial schools. The Chicago Archdiocese announced a new program Friday to give some help and hope to those who have fallen on hard times. Francis Cardinal George announced Friday that the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Big Shoulders Fund have established a $1 million emergency scholarship fund for Catholic school families who have experienced job losses since the beginning of the school year.

"We don't want this to be a situation where a child who has begun a school year in one of our schools suddenly will find that he or she is not able to continue because their parents cannot afford the tuition any longer," said Francis Cardinal George.

"We have already sent just this morning an application form to pastors and principals where they can let us know who has lost a job," said Joshua Hale, Big Shoulders Fund.

There are more than 90,000 students in Chicago area Catholic schools. The archdiocese will provide $650,000 in scholarships and The Big Shoulders Fund will provide $350,000. Qualifying families are eligible to receive up to $1,000 per student.

"The minute we find out how the money can follow kids through federal funding and grants, I'll be the happiest penguin in North America," said Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey, superintendent of Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools.

Over 400 students attend Holy Trinity High School on the North Side . Fifteen-year-old Nhatey Mack is a freshman. Her grandmother, Gloria Christopher, takes care of Nhatey and her three siblings . Christopher just lost her job and told the school she could no longer afford to send her granddaughter to the school. The emergency scholarship money will now allow the 15-year-old to remain at Trinity.

"I'm not working, and we just couldn't afford the payments anymore, and if she couldn't stay here, she would be going to public school," said Gloria Christopher, Holy Trinity grandparent.

"I didn't want to leave. I think it's better for me, better for my family," said Nhatey Mack, Holy Trinity student.

The president of the school says parents come to him every day to say they can no longer afford to pay the tuition.

"It's a tremendous lifeline for our families. They are struggling," said Timothy Bopp, president of Holy Trinity H.S.

The executive director of Big Shoulders says the funding will allow at least 500 students to stay in schools supported by big shoulders. The principal of Holy Trinity says 96 percent of the seniors who attend the school graduate and go on to college, so this money will help others graduate and fulfill their dreams.

For more information on the program, visit or