Diocesan News

Scholars in Diocese Can Continue to Succeed, Thanks to Bright Christmas Campaign

(Photos: Courtesy of Boys Hope Girls Hope of New York)

CLINTON HILL — One of the best feelings ever, which many older students can attest to, is when it’s finally the end of the semester. After spending a semester studying and working hard to excel in academics and extracurriculars, they look forward to unwinding and celebrating with their classmates.

Scholars in the Boys Hope Girls Hope of New York (BHGHNY) program know that feeling exceptionally well. Since 1979, BHGHNY’s mission has been to help academically capable and motivated teens from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds meet their full potential.

The organization provides a safe and stable living environment, academic support, and guidance to its scholars so that they may finish high school, graduate from college, and become career-ready men and women. BHGHNY scholars attend either Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School or Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School, the organization’s partner high schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

[Related: Bright Christmas Campaign Helps Bring Families Closer Together at Hour Children]

Coming Together at Christmas

BHGHNY scholars look forward to their annual scholar holiday celebration, which marks the fall semester’s end. Last year, some expenses associated with the organization’s party were paid for through readers’ generosity to The Tablet’s annual Bright Christmas Campaign. Some of those funds, for example, allowed BHGHNY to give the scholars personalized tumblers filled with holiday candies, serving as a gift for their continued hard work, success, and commitment to the program.

“It’s always one of my favorite times of the year because it’s one of the only times when our entire community comes together. It’s not often that our scholars are able to be together in one place since they attend separate schools,” explained Chelsea Pittman Thrash, grants manager at BHGHNY. “And our seniors are also usually excited around this time of year because they’ve submitted their college applications and are waiting to hear back.”

Scholars spend time catching up with each other, before and during dinner.

Thrash continued, saying, “The holiday party gives off such great energy between the scholars’ loud cheering at the peer-nominated awards ceremony halfway through and their fun dance party at the end. We get to send them home for the holiday season in a positive way.”

Investing in Scholars’ Futures

Last year, BHGHNY served 61 high school scholars and supported 43 collegians with a bi-yearly college scholarship. BHGHNY traditionally allows its high school scholars to participate in its College Readiness Residential Program, where they can live in residences located near the two Catholic high schools five days a week. BHGHNY boys who attend Bishop Loughlin live in the De La Salle Christian Brothers residence located adjacent to the school. BHGHNY girls who attend Cristo Rey Brooklyn live in McAuley Hall, the former convent on campus.

The remaining Bright Christmas Campaign funds BHGHNY received last year were used to help pay for a portion of tuition payments on the scholars’ behalf, as well as other costs directly associated with the organization’s residential program.

Related: Bright Christmas Campaign Helped Create ‘Miles of Smiles’ Last Year

Thrash explained that BHGHNY is supported entirely through private funds every year, meaning it doesn’t receive any state or federal funding. Scholar families in the program contribute a monetary amount to the organization that equates to roughly $1,200 a year per scholar. BHGHNY hopes to provide a more efficient program for its scholars in the next few years.

According to Thrash, it’s currently pursuing a capital campaign to purchase a new residence for girls in the program. It plans to have all of its scholars attend Bishop Loughlin — instead of having the program split among two campuses.

“We hope this will allow us to serve even more scholars in residence in the future,” Thrash noted.

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