Archdiocese announces $5 million gift from Kinder Foundation

December 20, 2011

HOUSTON — Almost a century after the first Inner City Catholic School began serving students in Houston in 1912, a $5 million gift from the Kinder Foundation is about to usher in a new era for five urban Catholic schools. 

The Kinder Foundation gift will go toward the Catholic Schools Cooperative: a pilot group of five PK3 – 8 grade Inner City schools that pool resources as a new model for school and student development in the Archdiocese. The Cooperative was established in August 2011 to enhance the quality and viability of the Archdiocese's Inner City Schools. 

"For decades, our urban schools have provided an exemplary education to low-income and minority students, and this transformational gift will ensure the standard of excellence in the Inner City Catholic Schools continues for generations to come," Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said. 

"Recognizing the Catholic schools in the Inner City have been and continue to be the best hope for children of our urban areas, the Kinder Foundation has pledged this generous gift to the five schools in our first cooperative: Resurrection School, St. Augustine School, St. Francis School, St. Peter the Apostle School and St. Pius V School," the cardinal said.

The Foundation gift will address: classroom resources, including instruction and technology; teacher pay; professional development; and improvement at Cooperative facilities, some of which are more than 50 years old. 

"Our urban schools are very successful, but have many challenges," said Sister Kevina Keating, CCVI, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese. "We are very excited about our first Catholic Schools Cooperative and extremely grateful to Rich and Nancy Kinder for this immensely generous gift and their confidence and support of our Inner City Catholic Schools and each student."

The Kinder Foundation gift to the first Cooperative provides the five schools with the financial support that will allow them to determine the effectiveness and success of their innovative approach on a much faster timeline than originally planned and lead to an expansion of this model to all Inner City schools. 

The Archdiocese educates about 2,000 students through its 13 Inner City schools in Houston, Pasadena and Galena Park. 

"Nancy and I recognize the strong emphasis on education and character building that the Archdiocese fosters in its school curriculum," said Rich Kinder, of the Kinder Foundation. "The Inner City Catholic Schools are an under utilized asset that, with some investment, can boost the availability of quality education and have a resounding impact on the surrounding community."

This spring, Archdiocesan Catholic Schools were given national recognition by the College Board for increasing diversity in their student bodies, while maintaining or increasing college readiness. According to the latest demographic data for the Inner City Catholic Schools, 100 percent of students go on to high school and half attend Catholic high schools. The National Catholic Education Association reports 97 percent of Catholic high school graduates attend college. 

About 40 percent of Inner City students receive tuition assistance from the Archdiocese, ranging from partial assistance to full scholarships. 
The Kinder Foundation's contribution will hopefully inspire others to support Catholic schools through The Cardinal's Circle for Excellence in the Inner City Catholic Schools and other channels, according to Sister Keating. 

"The need of each of our Inner City Schools is great. While the effectiveness of our schools is well documented, our ability to continue to provide a quality education to low-income families has many challenges, due to demographic shifts, rising costs, aging facilities and diminishing financial resources," Sister Keating said. "The Kinder Foundation's gift does not supplant the ongoing funding required to continue to provide more than 2,000 economically disadvantaged children an exemplary education and a strong foundation in Gospel values."

Rich and Nancy Kinder have supported Catholic education in the Archdiocese in recent years, giving a lead gift of $1 million for funding an Inner City Catholic Schools' initiative for tuition, facilities and educational equipment in 2010. The Kinders have also contributed to Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston. 

The Kinder Foundation is a family foundation established by Rich and Nancy Kinder. It is the mission of the Foundation to enrich the lives of people in the Houston area through transformational grants that impact urban green space, education and quality of life. 

The Foundation's gift and continued financial support from other contributors will enable the Archdiocese to sustain the teaching mission of the Catholic Church, Sister Keating said. "Our education system — which has been a pioneer in developing young people's intellectual talents and instilling in them a sense of service and a call to be responsible citizens — will thrive because of our supporters."

In his 1999 exhortation, "The Church in America," Blessed John Paul II said, "It will never be possible to free the needy from poverty unless they are first freed from the impoverishment rising from a lack of adequate education." †

The Cardinal's Circle is a group of Catholic education supporters who advance the teaching mission of the Church in the Inner City. Established in 2010, the Cardinal's Circle has two goals: to ensure the Inner City Schools maintain a standard of excellence in curriculum, staff and physical facilities; and to make it possible for any family to send their children to Catholic school. 

The Cardinal's Circle was established to bridge the financial gap between the income from Catholic school tuition and what it costs to educate a child in an Inner City parochial school. For more information, contact the Archdiocesan Office of Development 713-741-4417.