Archdiocese of Chicago
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$1 Million to support Catholic School Families
Emergency Scholarships for Parents Losing Jobs

CHICAGO, IL (January 30, 2009) Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, announced today that the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Big Shoulders Fund have established a one million dollar Emergency Scholarship Fund for Catholic school families who have experienced job losses since the beginning of the school year.

"Our Catholic school families have been deeply affected by the recession, with more and more parents experiencing the loss of their jobs," said Cardinal George. "Support is needed in these tough economic times to help parents keep their children in Catholic schools."

While parishes and school communities do their utmost to assist families with tuition payments for many of the more than 90,000 students in Archdiocesan Catholic Schools, this support provides additional relief. The Archdiocese of Chicago 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. Inquires should be made directly with their child’s school principal.

“Our principals and pastors, with knowledge of their families, raised unemployment as a serious issue last semester,” said Sr. M. Paul McCaughey, OP, Superintendent of Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools. “We are very aware that this is only a small part of the actual need, but this scholarship fund is urgently required at this time.”

“We believed that it was important to go above and beyond this year to meet some of the tremendous need in the communities we served in this joint effort with the Archdiocese of Chicago,” said Joshua Hale, Executive Director of the Big Shoulders Fund. “This funding will allow 500 students to stay in schools supported by Big Shoulders, in addition to the nearly 4,500 elementary and high school students we’ve already assisted this year.”

Registration for the 2009-2010 school year is beginning now. For more information visit www.archchicago.org and click on Catholic schools or call 312-534-5250.

The Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools, with over 90,000 students and more than 6,000 teachers and staff, play a critical role in the life of the community by instilling faith, teaching discipline and achieving strong, consistent academic results for students of many races, faiths and backgrounds in the 218 elementary and 40 secondary schools in Cook and Lake counties. Catholic elementary schools enjoy a 17 to 1 student-teacher ratio while Catholic secondary schools have a 16 to 1 student-teacher ratio. The attendance rate of students in elementary schools and secondary schools is 97%. The attendance rate of students in secondary schools is 96%. Ninety-six percent of seniors who attend Catholic secondary schools graduate and 95% of those graduates go on to college. Archdiocesan Catholic schools are diverse: 22% of the population consists of students of faith traditions other than Catholic and nearly 30% represent diverse ethnic groups. Their families choose Catholic schools to provide a quality faith-based education rooted in values. All Catholic elementary schools use TerraNova II as the testing/assessment program because of its focus on National Standards. Archdiocese of Chicago school students test well into the 60th percentile on average. The national norm is the 50th percentile.

The Big Shoulders Fund was founded in 1986 by a group of businessmen, inspired by the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, to provide assistance for the inner-city Catholic schools in Chicago that are poorest in resources. To date, the Big Shoulders Fund has raised more than $172 million which has been used to help defray tuition and operating costs at 93 inner-city elementary and secondary schools, and to assist with capital and other programmatic enhancements at these schools. The Fund is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit entity that receives and distributes contributions to needy inner-city Catholic schools. For more information on Big Shoulders, visit www.bigshouldersfund.org or call 312-751-8337.

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