When non-Catholics support the mission of Catholic education

Remember when that atheist fellow gave a bunch of money to New York’s Catholic schools a few years ago?

I came across a great quote from the guy, Robert W. Wilson:

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I remember the first time I had lunch with Cardinal Egan. We were finishing up, and he said, ‘Well, now that you’ve given all this money to our schools, I should try to convert you.’ I said to him, ‘Well, Cardinal, if you do, I suppose I should try to convert you. The only problem is that if I succeed, you’ll lose your job.’

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I came across Wilson’s great one-liner in a very interesting feature story from Philanthropy magazine about non-Catholics who give big money to Catholic schools.

about_studentsIn Wilson’s case, he was  won over by a simple fundraising letter from the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which made the case that Catholic schools get results, but many kids can’t afford to go.

As a result, he’s written checks for more than $30 million since 2007.

Whoever wrote that fundraising letter should get a raise, no?

I found a good interview with Wilson here.

The Philanthropy article also profiles Jewish and secular individuals and foundations who give big bucks to Catholic education because of the education (as opposed to the Catholic part).

One such fellow is Stephen Schwarzman, a Jew and a very successful investor who serves on the board of the Archdiocese of NY’s Inner-City Scholarship Fund. (UPDATE: Turns out that while Schwarzman is a major donor to the ICSF, it’s his wife, Christine, who serves on the board.)

He’s committed to assuring that children from low-income families can attend Catholic schools for the full 12 years, so they don’t have to worry about losing scholarships mid-way through.

He tells Philanthropy:

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I have always been a big supporter of education in general. I’m especially impressed with the commitment the Archdiocese of New York has made to educate more than 40,000 inner-city students with a solid values-based academic program. They have achieved fantastic results—98 percent of the seniors graduate, and 97 percent of these graduates plan to pursue post-secondary education—especially for a student population that’s 93 percent minority, where 50 percent live near or below the poverty line.

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Photo: Inner-City Scholarship Fund

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.