Faith in the Future Foundation says he empowered lay leaders
Photo: Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. (CNA)
Catholic schools in Philadelphia have seen revitalization in finances and quality of education thanks to the initiative of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, says a group that collaborated with him on the effort.
“While fund-raising certainly helped, the faith and wisdom of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was equally important,” the Faith in the Future foundation said.
“He recognized the passion of lay leaders – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – for these schools and he empowered them to take action.”
The archdiocese began a partnership in 2012 with the Faith in the Future to increase fundraising and new leadership in overseeing Catholic school management.
“We need to have ongoing interest on the part of the donor community – not only Catholics but people who share our commitment to education – the ongoing support of the archdiocese of course, and our people and our pastors are all included,” Archbishop Charles Chaput said at the time, according to the Catholic Philly.
The foundation is now in charge of 17 high schools and four special education schools. The program started off in 2012 with nearly $13 million in donations and has increased to $19.4 million in 2016. In a recent column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the group's leaders lauded Archbishop Chaput for his part in the growing success of the city's Catholic schools.
Faith in the Future works to fund the school's operational deficits then reinvests the surpluses into new programs. The organization also oversees improvements to operations and market strategies to further promote enrollment.
In the beginning of 2012, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was planning on closing 44 elementary schools, four high schools, and displacing nearly 24,000 students. Among other challenges, the archdiocese felt heavy financial strains from organizational issues and abuse scandals.
“The resources simply don't exist. Many of our parishes are financially strained. The archdiocese itself faces serious financial and organizational challenges that have been developing for many years and cannot be ignored,” Archbishop Chaput had told the Catholic Standard & Times.
As part of the revamping initiative, many schools have undergone significant transformation. West Catholic was reborn as West Catholic Preparatory High School, and has since doubled its enrollment – adding engineering and technology programs as well as a partnership with Drexel University. The U.S. Department of Education also accepted Our Mother of Consolation into the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which is an award recognizing academic excellence. Both schools were originally among those slated to close.
The foundation's CEO, Samuel Carter, said that only three schools are now running on deficits. Carter noted they have accumulated a surplus over the past three years, and funds are being channeled back into new technologies and programs.
Besides increased funds by donors and better school organization, expansions to state tax credit programs have made tuition assistance more readily available for families. The programs apply tax breaks or credits to businesses that provide a charitable donation. Businesses are able to receive 75-90 per cent state tax credit for any amount up to $750,000.