Cardinal’s Circle seeks to close funding gap for urban schools

February 28, 2012

With the funds her school received last year from "The Cardinal's Circle for Excellence," Kitty Costello, principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe School, was able to replace old textbooks and help pay for a part-time art teacher.

"Obviously from the monetary side, we couldn't do without it," Costello said. "But it's also a morale booster. There's a feeling sometimes of isolation at an Inner City school, but we realized with this support we're not alone."

Our Lady of Guadalupe, a school with 238 students from pre-school through eighth grade located at 2405 Navigation Blvd., is one of 13 Inner City Catholic schools that will be getting a boost from The Cardinal's Circle this year.

Now in its second year, the initiative was created to keep Catholic education alive in the Archdiocese's urban areas by providing funds to bridge the financial gap between the cost of tuition and the cost of educating a child in schools serving low income and minority students. At Our Lady of Guadalupe, for instance, the cost to educate a child is $5,400 a year, while tuition is only $3,200, and many students receive financial aid.
Last year, 187 members of The Cardinal's Circle donated more than $1.13 million to aid the Inner City schools. This year, organizers are hoping to enlist more people into becoming members of The Cardinal's Circle by donating $5,000 or more. Tom Macrini, who with his wife Nancy helped spearhead the initiative, said he is appealing to likeminded people to help less fortunate families who want a quality education for their children. 
"It was obvious to me and others that these schools needed help from outside their parish and the broader Catholic community to provide an excellent education," Macrini said. "It was our Christian duty to help our fellow parishioners."

The Archdiocese educates about 2,000 students through its 13 Inner City Schools in Houston, Pasadena and Galena Park. About 40 percent of Inner City students receive tuition assistance from the Archdiocese, ranging from partial assistance to full scholarships. In addition to tuition assistance, every year the Archdiocese must also provide about $1.3 million in subsidies to its Inner City Schools to help cover the rising costs of educating students.

Macrini said research has shown that overall, students who receive a Catholic education, whether or not they are Catholic, are more likely to do well in school, go on to college and be successful.

"It was very appealing to us," Macrini said. "I can't imagine how well these schools could do if they didn't have to worry about the finances."
Roz Hill, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Development, who is coordinating the fundraising effort for the Archdiocese, said they believe Catholic schools are the best hope for children in Houston's urban neighborhoods. 

"Giving these students a strong education grounded in moral principles creates responsible citizens for our wider society," she said. "The generosity of The Cardinal's Circle donors will help the Archdiocese ensure that Catholic education affordable to low-income families for generations to come." †