Forget summer jobs. High school students in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Catholic school system now have a chance to earn up to $25,000.
All they have to do is convert their public-school counterparts — not to the faith necessarily, but to the classroom.
The financially ailing archdiocese announced last week that it will give $110,000 in tuition grants to students who tally the most new referrals to parochial education.
The decision was driven by the recent threat of school closures, said archdiocese spokesman Kenneth Gavin.
“We needed to really utilize every asset we have to help stabilize those schools and bolster the enrollment, so students are definitely a key asset toward achieving that goal,” said Gavin.
After weeks of public outcry and vigorous fundraising from students, parents and alumni, the archdiocese announced Feb. 24 that it would reverse plans to close four area high schools — West Catholic, St. Hubert’s, Bonner-Prendergast, and Conwell-Egan.
With this decision, the archdiocese also created the “Faith in the Future Foundation”—a group charged with keeping the schools open by building a protective education endowment.
By May 1, the group hopes to have collected $15 million. By 2017, its goal is $70 million.
In the short term though, according to Gavin, the archdiocese’s schools are still in great need. He said the idea for the referral program struck officials as they witnessed the great outpouring of support in January and February.
“We saw that if kids could rally so quickly and effectively to help save their schools, that they would really be key toward driving enrollment in all the archdiocesan high schools,” said Gavin. “They love their schools, that’s really evident, and our hope is that by having them share that love with others, we can show what truly differentiates our schools from others.”
The student with the most referrals from each of the archdiocese’s 17 high schools will receive a $5,000 grant.
The student with the most overall will receive one for $25,000.
The funds for the grants will be paid out of the Faith in the Future Foundation endowment.