Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., and Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Steve Perla (at right) present Susan and Jack Dawley with a plaque recognizing their generous gift to Catholic schools in the Diocese. (Photo courtesy of The Anchor.)

OSTERVILLE — A substantial gift from a Cape Cod family will mean a big step forward for the infusion of digital learning into the curricula at Catholic schools in the Fall River Diocese.

John and Susan Dawley and family of Osterville have donated $550,000 to fund a Wi-Fi Readiness Initiative proposed by the diocesan Catholic Schools Office to ensure that students, faculty and staff have reliable access to robust Internet service.

The Wi-Fi Readiness Initiative followed a recent review that found that most Catholic schools in the diocese in need of upgrades to their Wi-Fi infrastructure in varying degrees to meet bandwidth and hardware goals set by the 2016 National Education Technology Plan.

“The gift from the Dawley family combined with some funding from a federal government program will allow our schools to make significant upgrades to their facilities’ Wi-Fi infrastructure,” explained diocesan Superintendent of Schools Steve Perla.

“This added capacity will be vital to enabling our teachers to continue to expand their use of technology in their classrooms, and it also assists our schools with moving toward a blended learning instructional method, an approach which results in teachers being able to more effectively meet individual student learning needs.”

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., acknowledged the gift at a recent gathering with benefactors of the diocese, expressing his own personal gratitude to Jack and Susan Dawley for their “extraordinary generosity” as well as “in the name of more than 6,000 students who are going to benefit from your generosity.”

The bishop added that the Wi-Fi project will “make a huge difference for the teachers and for the students and for the next generation, because they will benefit from the technology that is available now.”

Jack Dawley explained that he and his wife were impressed by the “state of the art program” outlined for the schools in the Wi-Fi Initiative and the wide impact it would have.

“We traditionally have given money to my alma mater and that’s gone into endowed scholarships, so we figure we’ve helped about 25 kids over the last 25 years. This proposal was a ‘four bagger,’ to use a sports analogy. Twenty-two schools including five high schools with some 6,000 kids. So how can you beat that if you want to give to charity? We’re thrilled that we’re able to do this…,” he said.

Anticipated total cost for the Wi-Fi improvements at diocesan schools is $828,821, and includes upgrades such as faster Internet access; properly sized firewalls; more robust switches; additional cabling and access points; and the installation and configuration of devices.

For the balance of the cost not covered by the Dawley gift, the diocesan Catholic Schools Office has successfully sought funding from the Schools and Libraries Program of the Federal Communication Commission’s Universal Service Fund, commonly known as E-Rate. The program provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in the U.S. obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access.

Diocese of Fall River
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