BAY RIDGE — Ready, set, sell! Catholic school students are getting an extra credit assignment that will put money into their pockets for tuition and raise cash for their schools. It’s part of a new program called “The Tablet’s COVID Relief Fundraiser.”
The drive launched on March 15 and runs through April 16. Over the next month, 52 participating schools will compete to sell the most subscriptions or renewals to The Tablet. Seventy-five percent of funds raised will be distributed to the students and their schools.
At Bay Ridge Catholic Academy (BRCA), Principal Kevin Flanagan traded in his suit and tie for suspenders and a flat cap on kick-off day. Acting as a newsie, he handed out copies of the March 6 issue at the start of school — which included the latest editions of Nuestra Voz and Tablet Jr. — to students and parents as a way to spread the word about the fundraiser.
“At this time in history, kids aren’t allowed to have paper routes anymore,” Flanagan said. “This is an exciting chance for them to have that experience in a way that is both safe and lucrative for themselves.”
He continued, “Kids have the opportunity to read the newspaper and understand stories that are important to their Catholic identity and also help promote their faith outside of the classroom.”
Top-selling students will win big prizes at the conclusion of the fundraiser — first place is $3,000, second place is $2,000, and third place is $1,000. All other students who sell three or more subscriptions earn $10 for each subscription sold. These funds can be used to offset tuition costs for the following academic year.
A $3,000 grand prize will also be awarded to the school whose students sell the most subscriptions. Additionally, every school participating in the program will earn $5 for each subscription sold by their students.
Vito Formica, the Executive Director of News Content and Development at DeSales Media Group, the non-profit that created and runs the fundraiser, said the program was designed with great incentives for maximum impact during a time of need.
“If you look at the numbers based on enrollment and schools participating, there is the potential of raising $250,000, all of which will go right back to the students and their schools,” he said. “If we can earn a loyal reader and subscriber out of it, that’s a win-win-win — for the students, schools, and Catholic journalism.”
James Caufield, whose daughter Sienna is a kindergartner at BRCA, said this campaign is a great idea.
“It’s a good talent to learn, to raise a little bit of money for yourself, and learn about fiscal responsibility,” Caufield said about the subscription selling. “And it’s a good thing for the school, as well, that they can get outside funds and resources for technology for the school.”
BRCA kindergarten teacher Josephine Ghorra noted how the newspaper is another way for families to stay informed about what’s going on in their local community and across the diocese. She added that the grand prize of $3,000 is a big incentive for those who want to help their schools financially.
“Fundraising for the school has been a little low due to this pandemic that we’re all experiencing. So, $3,000 can get us lots of great things,” Ghorra said, noting that money could go towards more computer-based learning or other school-related materials.
Her children Christopher and Jenna, who are students in BRCA’s seventh and fourth grades, respectively, are looking forward to seeing who can sell the most subscriptions between them.
“It will help a lot of people, and it can also help them learn what’s going on around the world and [in] churches,” Christopher said, explaining why he wants to take part in the campaign.
“I know a lot of people are in need of help,” his sister Jenna added. “I would share it with my friends and my family.”
To help them succeed, participating students were issued a package of materials they can use to sell the benefits of subscribing ($20 for one year) to friends, family, and neighbors.
With social distancing being a priority, DeSales Media created custom websites for each school so their students can simply share a link to sign up with prospective customers. Subscribers can sign up directly online using a credit card and entering the student’s name for credit. If they wish, they can pay by check using a printed form provided by the student.
Subscribers will receive The Tablet, the Diocese of Brooklyn’s newspaper in print since 1908. Included with the publication are Nuestra Voz, the Spanish-language monthly newspaper, and Tablet Jr, the newspaper produced by and for the diocese students.
Flanagan feels confident that his students will rise to the challenge and help raise money for themselves and BRCA.
“We’re certainly going to try our best,” he said, “but what I can promise you is that we are going to share the message of our faith with the community as far and wide as we can.”