The Cardinal’s Circle provides Inner City Catholic School students a path toward success

September 11, 2018

Adam, Ismael and Samuel Rodriguez, sons of Briana and husband Ismael Rodriguez, attend Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School with assistance from The Cardinal’s Circle. Photo courtesy of the Development Office.

HOUSTON — Founded in 2010, the mission of The Cardinal’s Circle is to help Inner City Catholic Schools maintain a standard of academic excellence in curriculum and staff. The Cardinal’s Circle also helps these 13 schools provide tuition assistance required by a large portion of their student population.

“Inner City Catholic Schools need our support for their annual operations. This support allows the schools to offer both strong academics along with excellent faith formation,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said. “Many of the families would be unable to afford the tuition without assistance and the schools would not be able to acquire many essential items like textbooks and classroom equipment. Members of The Cardinal’s Circle provide critical funding for these schools.”

Through an annual contribution of $5,000, The Cardinal’s Circle members invest in the lives of students at the Inner City Catholic Schools, which provide opportunities for urban children and their families faced with incredible financial challenges. The donation not only provides tuition assistance, but also encourages students to develop a relationship with God and an understanding of their faith that will serve them well for a lifetime.

Mathew Mendoza, who currently works at a local law firm, attended St. Pius V Catholic School from kindergarten through eighth grade, St. Thomas High School, the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law.

“Going to Catholic school for 14 years of my life made one thing above all else crystal clear to me — no matter what roadblock I face in my life, I would be lost without God’s direction,” he said.

Mendoza said he believes he is successful today because his teachers in the Catholic schools focused their attention on him and his specific needs throughout his early childhood and high school.

“Each step I have taken on this road was due in part from my parents’ zeal and the generosity of The Cardinal’s Circle that allowed me to attend Catholic schools through tuition assistance,” he said.

Donations to The Cardinal’s Circle also help Catholic schools provide an atmosphere of safety and trust; enhanced technology that includes computer tablets, software and projectors; classroom equipment; and field trips and busing to museums, zoo and performances.

Briana and husband Ismael Rodriguez stated that family tradition was the prime motivation for them to want their three boys to attend Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School (OLG).

Briana is in charge of records at the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department and Ismael is a certified heavy equipment technician.

“While the legacy of this wonderful, family-oriented school drew my husband and me to OLG, we knew it would be a challenge to pay the tuition. It was a hardship that we accepted without reservation,” Briana said. “Every day, we are grateful for the tuition assistance we receive so that our sons can have a successful future because of the strong educational and faith foundation that they experience at OLG.”

Briana said her oldest, Ismael, was selected to go to the Energy Institute High School where he is excited about creating new inventions as a freshman. Her son Adam, who is a seventh grader and a star athlete in many sports, especially basketball, and Samuel, a fifth grader, seeks to give back to those in need. Both children are hoping to attend St. Thomas High School.

“The sacrifice for our sons is all worth it,” she said. “My husband and I are grateful to all of the members of The Cardinal’s Circle, who support our journey in trying to raise the best children we can for our family and our community.”

Christina Mendez, principal at Holy Ghost Catholic School, said principals and pastors work together in the Inner City Catholic Schools to set a local vision.

“By practicing good stewardship with our Cardinal’s Circle funds, we are able to develop programs, offer trainings, or hire more experienced teachers in order to bring about this vision for our schools,” she said.

Debra Haney, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese, said the Catholic Schools Office is working hard to support all aspects of the changing needs of the Inner City Catholic Schools including curriculum and professional development for science, technology, engineering and math.

“With the implementation of the Archdiocesan Instructional Model and the use of instructional specialists in our Inner City Catholic Schools, there is strong evidence of student growth in the schools. This focus on literacy is helping our students to thrive in all subject areas,” she said. “In addition, we are assessing their marketing and infrastructure requirements to assist them in forming a vision for the future life of their schools.”

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