Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Dinner Attendees Ensure A Future for Education

It was a big night at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan when the Futures in Education Foundation held its annual Scholarship Dinner. There were big names in the crowd and big dividends for needy students who want to attend Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens.

By the end of the evening, Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, the diocese’s vicar for development, was announcing that more than $2 million had been raised toward scholarships for kids.

Catholic schools are a major priority for Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, and so it was not surprising to see him make the dinner his first public appearance since a brief hospitalization for a severe throat infection.

More than 800 people also were in attendance, filling not only the floor of the main ballroom but also many of the majestic boxes that overhang the iconic site.

There were speeches and auctions and thank yous, but none of the words were more relevant than those from Carol Villani, whose two daughters, Shannon and Ashley, attend St. Margaret’s School, Middle Village, thanks to the Be An Angel program supported by Futures in Education.

“Futures in Education is everything for my daughters and for me,” said Mrs. Villani. “Without Futures in Education, my daughters would not be able to attend a Catholic school.”

And the daughters, during an interview for NET’s Currents, said they love the family atmosphere created by Principal Phil Franco at St. Margaret’s.

The evening’s two honorees are both products of Catholic education. N.Y.C. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is a graduate of St. Gregory the Great, Bellerose, and Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, and Anthony J. Bonomo, CEO of PRI/Administrators for the Professions, is proud to be an alumnus of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Williamsburg, and Bishop Loughlin M.H.S., Fort Greene.

“The discipline, the values in Catholic schools are absolutely invaluable,” said Commissioner Kelly. “I commend these schools for making the city a more compassionate, more human and more caring environment.”

The statistics are staggering. In 1989, when Futures was established, it was able to award $66,000 in scholarships to 133 families. Last year, it provided $8.4 million in assistance to 6,159 students. The average family income of those receiving help is $27,000.

Catholic values and a solid academic program are what make Catholic schools so popular.

“They give a moral structure, and they provide a community for learning,” said Nick Vendikos of the Futures in Education Foundation.

Seventy-five percent of students attending a Catholic elementary school in Brooklyn and Queens go on to a Catholic or other private high school. Last year, 839 elementary school graduates were offered almost $12 million in merit-based scholarships. Ninety-nine percent of students in a Catholic secondary school graduate within four years, and 98 percent go on to college.

But the need remains great. The bishop points out that last year, there were $11 million in requests that could not be met.

While Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens have built a solid foundation, the numbers could not be maintained if not for the generosity of donors to Futures in Education. For more information about Futures in Education, you can call 718-965-7308 or log on to www.futuresineducation.org.