FALL RIVER — Since the opening of the first Catholic school in the Diocese of Fall River, it has been a goal to make Catholic schools accessible to all families who wish to provide a Catholic education for their children. It was to this end that in 1991, the Diocese of Fall River established the St. Mary’s Education Fund using the proceeds from the sale of the St. Mary’s building in New Bedford. The fund was established as a separately incorporated entity in order to provide annual “needs based” scholarships enabling elementary school students to attend the Catholic schools within the diocese.
In 2015, the St. Mary’s Education Fund changed its name to the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE) and in 2019, the management of FACE changed to the Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, the fundraising organization for the Diocese of Fall River.
Thirty years later, the demand for financial assistance continues to grow as demographics have changed, the cost of living has increased, and a worldwide pandemic has completely changed the conversation on education. The Foundation to Advance Catholic Education continues to raise funds to ensure students are able to attend their local Catholic elementary school. In fact, for the 2021-22 school year, FACE is on target to provide $1,425,000 in scholarships to more than 900 students.
“I meet with every family who is interested in our school and want all families to know about the tremendous help FACE offers our schools,” says David Flanagan, principal of Holy Name School in Fall River. “The pandemic continues to challenge the delivery of education and we want all families to know that there is a robust tuition assistance program for the Diocese of Fall River. We encourage you to contact your local Catholic school BEFORE you assume the affordability of the education. So many of my families were pleasantly surprised that they can afford Catholic education with the assistance of FACE.”
“Our children have been supported by FACE for years, and we could not be happier to have them in a Catholic school,” indicated Lisa DaPonte, whose children attend St. James-St. John School in New Bedford. “We want the combination of the loving, faith-based environment with the rigorous academics that public educational options cannot provide. While it is a sacrifice to pay tuition, we see it as an investment in our children’s future that has no price tag.”
According to Miriam Sherman, CEO of the Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, “Since 1991, FACE has provided over $17 million in needs based scholarships for students in our diocese. There are so many families who want to provide their children with a Catholic education but need some assistance with the cost of tuition. These families value the education — especially during the pandemic — and are committed to paying what they can afford and we are blessed that so many donors are committed to supporting FACE in order to fill the gap.”
The Foundation to Advance Catholic Education wants to meet the challenges of serving more culturally and economically diverse populations, while addressing the sustained increase in the demand for financial assistance for families striving to send their children to diocesan schools.
For more information about the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education, please go to www.face-dfr.org.