Ensuring that a Catholic education is accessible to all has been a long-standing mission of the Diocese of Cleveland. Keeping tuition affordable requires innovative methods and a significant increase in fundraising for the diocese to support families in need.
Religious orders and parishes worked diligently for decades not only to provide an option of Catholic schooling to their communities but to keep it affordable. The effort was less challenging when the majority of teaching staff were women religious and strong charitable giving enabled parishes to provide further financial support to schools.
Operating costs for schools were increased because of necessary technology expenditures, the advancement of traditional classroom design in order to accommodate diverse learning styles and payroll for lay staff.
Understanding the reality of educating today’s youth, departments within the diocese collaborate to help make Catholic education a possibility for lower- to middle-income families.
The Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Cleveland launches various fundraising campaigns throughout the year, including the annual Faith and Values Appeal in August to help provide funding to the Diocesan Tuition Assistance program.
By coordinating efforts with the Office of Catechetical Formation and Education, the Catholic Community Foundation understands the volume of need from families requesting financial assistance each year.
“Tuition assistance may be the deciding factor in a family committing to enroll their children into a Catholic school,” said Frank O’Linn, interim superintendent of Catholic schools.
"For those who are committed to Catholic education, DTA brings to reality the ability to provide for their children what was easier to financially plan for years ago,” explains O’Linn.
More than 40,000 students are enrolled in 108 Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the diocese, representing the fifth-largest private school system in the United States and the second-largest school system (public or private) in the state of Ohio.
Last year, the Catholic Community Foundation made a distribution of nearly $2.5 million to the Office of Catechetical Formation and Education to provide tuition assistance to approximately 3,500 students attending Catholic schools throughout the diocese.
“The value of faithful philanthropy is essential to supporting the mission of the Church,” said Patrick Grace, executive director of the Catholic Community Foundation.
“All donations count, and the generous people who contribute are ultimately impacting the lives of Catholic youth in profound ways,” Grace added.
Letters of appreciation from families and handwritten cards from students who received tuition assistance in the current academic year have poured into the diocese.
As one student wrote, “This gift is very generous. My freshman year has shaped me in ways I did not expect and I am grateful to have been given this opportunity.”
First-round applications for Diocesan Tuition Assistance are being accepted through March 15. Financial aid is available for families who may not be able to afford the full cost of tuition.