LOWER MANHATTAN — Manuel Hernandez, a graduate of Christ the King High School who currently attends New York City College of Technology and aspires to become a mechanical engineer, is convinced that he couldn’t have made it through Catholic school without help from Futures in Education.
The organization, which provides scholarships to help students pay Catholic school tuition, assisted Hernandez throughout his high school years.
“Futures in Education helped me to become the person I am today,” he said. “I’m very grateful.”
His association with the organization goes back to his days as a student at Salve Regina Catholic Academy when he received financial aid through the “Be an Angel” program. Under “Be an Angel,” each donor provides financial aid to help an individual student with tuition costs.
Hernandez was a guest speaker at the Futures in Education’s Annual Scholarship Dinner Monday night, an affair that drew more than 500 people and filled the grand ballroom of the Cipriani Wall Street event space.
Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, vicar for development for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said the dinner raised $2.1 million. He estimated that amount will help as many as 3,000 students in schools across the diocese.
“The message is, without the support of our donors, children would never be able to receive a good Catholic education,” Msgr. Gigantiello said. “Many of our children come from families that don’t have the means to send their children to (Catholic) school. And unless we support them with these scholarships through the ‘Angel’ program, they would never be able to attend.”
However, he stressed, it’s about more than just money.
“And it’s not just a matter of attending a Catholic school and hearing our faith. It’s a matter of giving them a foundation for the rest of their lives,” Msgr. Gigantiello said.
Rosanna Scotto, co-host of “Good Day New York” on Fox5 NY, served as master of ceremonies at the gala. The honorees were Lidia Bastianich, the famous television chef and cookbook author, and Frank Carone, a lawyer who has been a supporter of Futures in Education over the years.
“I think tonight is an extremely important night,” Bastianich said, adding that after the COVID-19 pandemic, people feel the need to be closer to their families and to do something for their community.
“This is certainly an event for our children. The future is our children,” she added.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who delivered the invocation, noted that the pandemic forced last year’s dinner to be a virtual event. This year, the dinner was in-person once again. “We’re back at full strength working for our children,” he said.