WINDSOR TERRACE — More students across the Diocese of Brooklyn will be able to afford and attend Catholic schools during this academic year, thanks in part to grants provided by the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens (CFBQ).
CFBQ financially supports the local Catholic community’s spiritual, educational, and social needs through the procurement and building of endowment funds — awarding over $2 million in grants annually. The Futures in Education (FIE) program provides assistance to the neediest of diocesan school students through endowments and fundraising initiatives.
When FIE found itself helping hundreds of the neediest families who were unable to pay school tuition during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years, CFBQ complemented FIE’s scholarship aid with additional funds.
Through its grants program, the foundation gave $350,000 to FIE, which ultimately helped 280 students in 52 parish schools and Catholic academies across Brooklyn and Queens. The average award for each student was $1,250, according to CFBQ and FIE Executive Director John Notaro.
Through its grants program this year, CFBQ will give $400,000 to FIE, once again aiding families most in need. An estimated three dozen additional students will be receiving financial assistance through CFBQ’s grant, which will go into effect this academic year.
“Looking at this upcoming year, it was obvious that there’s still a tremendous need in our schools as some of our families haven’t been able to return to work or are just returning to work and are still struggling,” Notaro said.
“We’re doing what we can to help keep these families in our schools and help provide them with the Catholic education that parents are looking for, for their kids,” he added.
Mary Jane McCartney and Michael Massiah, co-chairs of the CFBQ grants committee, immediately recognized the financial needs Catholic schools faced when the pandemic began.
“It was a no-brainer and a unanimous decision for us to support the schools because the Catholic schools found a way — with masks and social distancing — to remain open,” McCartney said, pointing out that most schools reopened on time for fully in-person learning in September 2020.
“Secondly, many parents were experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with either one working parent having to stay home for childcare or people losing their jobs altogether,” McCartney continued. “There was a need to support tuition in a way that was additional to the other great scholarship help Futures in Education gives.”
Massiah stressed that it was vital for the diocese, as a whole, to sustain Catholic education for its families.
“We had students who were in Catholic schools for a good portion of their lives and had made it to those significant grades, like the seventh grade, where they would not have been able to continue onto the eighth grade without support,” Massiah said. “Those kinds of realities drove us to prioritize the most effective means of the use of our funds.”
“Our mission is to ensure that we provide a means for Catholic education to the young people in the Diocese of Brooklyn,” he said. “That $350,000 was the most direct, greatest, and best use of the resources we had within the context of the pandemic.”
One of the recipients of tuition aid from the CFBQ-provided grant was the Delmas family from Saints Joachim and Anne School in Queens Village. Isley Delmas, a fifth-grader, and his younger sister Johani, a kindergartner, were able to stay at their school after their father Isaac had lost his job as a result of the pandemic.
“I went to a Catholic school in Haiti and that’s what I wish for my kids as well,” Isaac said. “I know they can have a better future when they receive a strong Catholic education.”
“Catholic school is a great school,” he continued, “and I hope the foundation keeps going and keeps helping more families to get through their situation — because I was one of them.”
Massiah said a top priority for CFBQ’s grants committee, as well as for the CFBQ board and the diocese as a whole, is to continue various means to strengthen Catholic education.
“The children are our future and the future of our faith,” Massiah added. “We want to invest in them.”