Catholic Schools Taking Steps to Reach Under-Served Populations

FALL RIVER — In his recent pastoral letter “Rebuilding in Faith and Hope,” Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., called for Catholic schools in the Diocese of Fall River to “pro-actively and successfully reach out to and enroll diverse student populations with special focus on traditionally under-served groups such as Latinos” and to “grow tuition assistance funding to serve students living at or below the poverty level.” In response to this call, two new initiatives have been launched for schools in two areas of the diocese.

In order to increase their ability to reach and serve Latino students, three schools in Fall River and three schools in the Greater New Bedford Area will be participating in the University of Notre Dame’s Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) in October 2017. The LEI will help school leadership have a deeper understanding of Latino cultures and traditions, intercultural competency, and enlist faculty, staff, and parents to reach out personally to Latino families and invite them to Catholic schools. Since its 2012 launch, 163 schools have participated in the LEI and experienced an average 23 percent increase in Latino enrollment.

The participating schools are Holy Name, Holy Trinity, and Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River and Holy Family-Holy Name and St. James-St. John in New Bedford, and Bishop Stang High School, Dartmouth. Each of these schools is committed to serving diverse populations and making their schools welcoming and inviting places where students from all cultural backgrounds can learn and succeed.

The second initiative seeks to directly impact low-income students. Entitled the Hope and Opportunity Initiative, it aims to provide 100 new low-income K-8 students with scholarships of up to $2,000 to attend a Catholic elementary school in the Fall River or New Bedford areas for the 2017-18 school year. In addition to the $2,000 scholarship, schools and parishes are offering financial aid to help bridge the remaining tuition gap. To date, 40 students have received the Hope and Opportunity Initiative scholarship and will be attending a Catholic elementary school this fall. This Initiative is made possible by a generous donation from the Carney Family Foundation, and the diocese expects to offer this opportunity to more students in the future.

“We are enormously grateful to both the University of Notre Dame and the Carney Family Foundation for their commitment to Catholic school education and willingness to partner with our Fall River and New Bedford Catholic schools,” remarked Fall River Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Steve Perla. “Their support enables our schools to more effectively serve under-served children and their families and provides access to children whose parents could not otherwise afford a Catholic school education for their children.”

For further information regarding diocesan Catholic schools’ participation in the LEI or the Hope and Opportunity Initiative, please contact Sarah Heaton at sheaton@dfrcs.org or (508) 678-2828.

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