In the midst of pandemic, The Cardinal’s Circle continues supporting ICCS

March 9, 2021

Students attending Holy Ghost Catholic School in Houston benefit from The Cardinal’s Circle. Holy Ghost Catholic School is one of eight Inner City Catholic Schools. (photo by Catholic Schools Office)

HOUSTON — The Cardinal’s Circle’s mission is to help Inner City Catholic Schools (ICCS) maintain a standard of academic excellence in curriculum and staffand to provide the tuition assistance required by a large portion of ICCS’s student population.

Through an annual contribution of $5,000 or more, members invest in students’ academic lives at the eight ICCS.

Founded in 2010 as a commitment to society and students in the Archdiocese’s urban areas, The Cardinal’s Circle celebrates a decade of providing this financial support to more than 16,000 students since its inception.

“I am grateful for the generosity of those who participate in The Cardinal’s Circle each year,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said. “Your gifts help to grow the Kingdom of God by supporting our ICCS.”

Making a true impact

New member Anthony Adornetto said that, when looking at charities to donate to, he felt ICCS seemed the most important thing to give to this year.

“Too many children are unable to pay, and there is not enough money for scholarships,” he said.

Jeffery Courville has been a member of the The Cardinal’s Circle since it was founded. He said he and his wife are passionate about Catholic education because they believe it truly impacts the lives of the children it serves.

“These schools provide not only an excellent education but also spiritual formation which helps the kids be prepared to navigate the challenges of life,” he said. “For the Catholic schools to be effective in impacting their communities and the lives of these students, it is critical to have talented teachers and quality educational resources. This financial burden can be very difficult for the school community to handle alone.”

Courville said he feels one of our greatest responsibilities is to prepare our children to live out their vocation in life, and their Catholic education is a part of that.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to get an excellent education while enriching their spirituality regardless of their economic background,” he said.

Responding to pandemic-driven needs

Courville said the pandemic has been especially challenging for many families navigating through job losses or extra financial burdens due to illness, as well as the emotional stress of being isolated from friends and loved ones.

“Some of the conditions we have experienced during the pandemic have also highlighted an even greater importance for families to have access to technology to keep the students in contact with their teachers and to continue progressing their education and formation,” he said. “I hope the assistance from The Cardinal’s Circle can provide help to keep the schools healthy and families who are already battling through tough times connected to their school communities. This can be very important for not just the students but the families who have built relationships to other school families that offer support in an already difficult time.”

Every penny makes a difference

Catholic Schools Superintendent Debra Haney wholeheartedly agreed, saying many of the schools have used the funds to support remote instruction and to provide additional tuition assistance to families in need.

“The Cardinal’s Circle donors should know that every penny that they donate is accounted for and goes directly, dollar for dollar, to make a difference in the lives of our students,” she said. “Our Catholic schools are so extremely grateful for The Cardinal’s Circle as these funds allow them to provide additional programming and resources for their students and teachers,” she said.

Haney said schools have used some money to enhance learning for students through the purchase of Chromebooks, iPads, additional bandwidth, textbooks and workbooks, reading instruction materials and training for the use of the materials for teachers. She that the added ICCS have also been able to use the funds to make facility improvements such as new interactive boards for the teachers to use in instruction as well as sports items and playground equipment for the school campus.

Dr. Angela Johnson, assistant superintendent of Mission and Catholic Identity, said historically, the The Cardinal’s Circle has consistently been a critical source of financial support for the ICCS.

“The generosity of The Cardinal’s Circle has been especially highlighted during the current pandemic in providing much-needed technology for virtual learning, instructional materials that include school books and teaching resources, in addition to operational support, which has been critical with school operations,” she said.

Adapting with new classroom tech

John Bates, principal at Assumption Catholic School, said COVID-19 affected the plans the school had set to enhance technology at the school.

“Last school year, we were able to purchase a mobile charging station and 30 Chromebooks for our students,” he said. “The original intent of the purchase was that it was the first step in our plan to go 1:1 in our fifth to eighth grades. However, the pandemic delayed that plan.”

Bates said the Chromebooks were most helpful in getting our remote students connected to the campus during the fall semester.

“A number of families did not have devices at home; without the Chromebooks, we would not have been able to offer a robust virtual academic experience for those children stuck at home,” he said. “Our hope is to use The Cardinal’s Circle funds to further our technology plan of going 1:1 in the future.”

Bates said The Cardinal’s Circle funds also ensure that the school is able to keep their tuition low without sacrificing their desire to provide students with a competitive academic and spiritual experience.

“The Cardinal’s Circle funds may be used to support families that struggle to meet their tuition obligation due to hardship, or they may be used to help bridge the financial gap to provide excellent programs,” he said.

Miguel Sanchez, principal at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Galena Park, said the school is very blessed with the funds that are received from The Cardinal’s Circle because “it is through those funds that we are able to hire, and keep qualified teachers to help form true disciples of Jesus Christ.”

“The funds received also provide families the opportunity for tuition assistance, so that their child(ren) are able to attend a Catholic school and receive spiritual formation on a daily basis,” he said.

To those considering donating to education, Courville said the mission of The Cardinal’s Circle is at the very core of Catholic education, which has a long tradition of providing high-quality education and spiritual formation to everyone, especially those in communities where educational options are limited.

“Participation in The Cardinal’s Circle is an opportunity for you to continue making this mission possible by serving these students and giving them this educational opportunity,” he said.

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