Principal Kathleen Byrnes can still visualize opening the envelope that contained The Catholic Foundation’s annual salary grant for inner-city schools.
As then-principal of Sts. Peter and Paul School in Wheat Ridge, Byrnes said the grant was a welcome blessing that helped pay for the school’s continuing education and teacher’s salaries.
“It was just like this weight was lifted off my shoulders,” said Byrnes, now principal of St. Louis School in Louisville. “You don’t want to cut anything that’s a support service for children and you have to pay your teachers. I remember celebrating it as a whole community.”
Grants from the northern Colorado endowment organization are given to poor and inner-city Catholic schools to help supplement teacher’s salaries.
Sts. Peter and Paul School was one of 14 schools awarded by the $600,000 in total grants, distributed between December and January for the 2013-2014 school year. The Foundation has distributed more than $8 million through its Teacher Salary Assistance program since 2003.
Richard Thompson, superintendent of the Office of Catholic Schools in the Denver Archdiocese, said the grants help close the gap for school’s lacking financial resources.
“Some of our schools are in parishes with offertories than run over $2 million a year, but some have offertories that barely reach $150,000,” he said. “Because of this diversity, we could quickly develop ‘haves and have-nots’ in our schools with some not being able to afford a salary scale to attract quality educators.”
Thompson assists the Foundation in assessing the needs and grant amount to give each school.
The schools selected to receive grants this year include Annunciation, Assumption, Blessed Sacrament, Guardian Angels and St. Francis de Sales, all in Denver; St. Louis in Englewood, Sts. Peter and Paul in Wheat Ridge and St. Therese in Aurora.
Teachers at these schools consider their work a personal vocation and are seen as representatives of Christ in the classroom, Thompson said.
“None of our teachers are here for the money,” he said. “Our teachers are here for the mission. If we are going to accomplish that mission, we truly must focus on our teachers in the classroom.”
By helping schools cover the cost of salaries, resources are made available to provide for other financial needs, he said.
“These grants help maintain a portfolio of God-based schools that are affordable and accessible to as many families as possible,” Thompson concluded. “They help us to avoid an ‘elitist system’ because all schools, whether they receive grants or not, are thus able to hire teachers at the same level of quality.”
The Foundation was established in 1998 to establish gifts and endowments to benefit more than 200 organizations mostly within the Denver Archdiocese. Gifts entrusted to the Foundation may be designated for specific endowments, program funds or donor-advised funds.
Recipients of The Catholic Foundation’s 2013-2014 grants
Annunciation School St. Francis de Sales School
Assumption School St. James School
Blessed Sacrament School St. Louis School, Englewood
Guardian Angels School Sts. Peter and Paul School
Our Lady of Lourdes School St. Rose of Lima School
St. Bernadette School St. Stephen School
St. Catherine of Siena School St. Therese School