Northeast Times

Local schools get scholarship money, thanks to tax credit

Bill Goetz, a CSX Corp. vice pres­id­ent, re­called a time not too long ago when Cath­ol­ic and private schools were seen as in­sti­tu­tions that would be open forever.

“Nowadays, that just isn’t true,” he said.

Goetz was re­cently at Little Flower High School as the Bridge Edu­ca­tion­al Found­a­tion dis­trib­uted $144,445 in schol­ar­ship money to loc­al schools, many of which are strug­gling to main­tain en­roll­ment at a time of high tu­ition, chan­ging neigh­bor­hoods and free charter schools. 

The money was made pos­sible by the state Edu­ca­tion­al Im­prove­ment Tax Cred­it.

Busi­nesses re­ceive a tax cred­it for donat­ing to a non-profit schol­ar­ship or­gan­iz­a­tion, such as the Har­ris­burg-based Bridge Edu­ca­tion­al Found­a­tion, which has handed out $17 mil­lion in schol­ar­ships in 55 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties since it was foun­ded in 2005.

Joe Gerdes, a Bridge founder, de­scribed the found­a­tion as a “bridge” to a suc­cess­ful private-pub­lic part­ner­ship.

Dur­ing an Oct. 24 event at Little Flower, the fol­low­ing com­pan­ies were rep­res­en­ted: Ae­gis Se­cur­ity In­sur­ance, CSX Cor­por­a­tion, En­ter­prise Hold­ings, Penn Jer­sey Pa­per, United­Health­care Com­munity Plan and Waste Man­age­ment.

The schools will dis­trib­ute the schol­ar­ship money to in­come-eli­gible fam­il­ies.

“I wish we could double it,” said Bobby Keyes, vice pres­id­ent and gen­er­al man­ager of En­ter­prise Hold­ings in South­east­ern Pennsylvania.

The fol­low­ing schools re­ceived the money: Little Flower, Arch­bish­op Ry­an, Fath­er Judge and St. Hubert high schools; Christ the King, Holy In­no­cents, Ma­ter­nity BVM, Moth­er of Di­vine Grace, Our Moth­er of Sor­rows/St. Ig­na­tius, Re­sur­rec­tion of Our Lord, St. An­selm, St. Cecil­ia, St. Chris­toph­er, St. Domin­ic, St. Mar­tin of Tours, St. Mat­thews and Naz­areth Academy ele­ment­ary schools; Politz Hebrew Academy; Greene Street Friends School; and Timothy Academy.

Keyes, whose moth­er is a Little Flower gradu­ate, is a gradu­ate of St. Mat­thew in May­fair. He and his broth­er at­ten­ded Fath­er Judge. His three sis­ters went to St. Hubert.

He urged the stu­dents in at­tend­ance to re­frain from drink­ing, do­ing drugs and tex­ting or talk­ing on the phone while driv­ing, adding that they also thank their par­ents for send­ing them to a private school.

“We need to hon­or those sac­ri­fices,” he said.

The four elec­ted of­fi­cials on hand all at­ten­ded Cath­ol­ic schools: State Reps. John Taylor (St. Hugh of Cluny, North Cath­ol­ic), John Sabat­ina Jr. (Re­sur­rec­tion, Fath­er Judge) and Kev­in Boyle (St. Helena, Car­din­al Dougherty) and state Sen. Tina Tartagli­one (St. Mar­tin of Tours, St. Basil).

Taylor, whose two alma ma­ters have closed be­cause of de­clin­ing en­roll­ment, said he hopes that every child who wants a Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion can af­ford to have one.

The law­maker de­scribed Bridge as an EITC pi­on­eer that uses ag­gress­ive and in­nov­at­ive ap­proaches to raise money. He cred­ited the host, Little Flower pres­id­ent Sis­ter Donna Shallo, with keep­ing her school flour­ish­ing.

“If Sis­ter Donna was in charge of North Cath­ol­ic, it would still be there,” he said.

School of­fi­cials were ec­stat­ic at the donated funds.

Sis­ter Shaun Thomas Cal­la­han, prin­cip­al at St. Domin­ic, clutched an en­vel­ope with a $5,000 check from CSX, a trans­port­a­tion com­pany.

“We’ve helped five fam­il­ies,” she said. “In this eco­nomy, that makes all the dif­fer­ence in the world.”

Sis­ter Donna said two Little Flower stu­dents will be­ne­fit from a dona­tion by En­ter­prise. She said schol­ar­ship money is in­valu­able in at­tract­ing stu­dents to en­roll.

“When par­ents budget their money, it cer­tainly is a de­cid­ing factor,” she said. “It’s great that we have this money at our dis­pos­al.” ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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