On December 7, Bishop Ronald Gainer and Daniel Breen, Secretary of Catholic Education, announced that over $1M has been raised in just six months to support tuition scholarships for the Catholic school students in the Diocese of Harrisburg. The funds were donated through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. This program allows tax payers to donate their taxes to a qualifying organization of their choice. The tax payer then receives a credit for those taxes with the state.
The scholarship funds were raised through a new partnership with RedefinED Advisors LLC, a Johnstown company that works with private schools to increase EITC money. The funds will be used to support additional financial aid assistance for current and potential Catholic school families at participating Catholic schools in the Diocese of Harrisburg during the 2023-24 school year. As each Catholic school is a separate legal entity, the Diocese will not receive any portion of these funds.
“Our goal in the Diocese of Harrisburg is to make Catholic education not just accessible, but also affordable for every family who wishes it. Today’s announcement is a step in achieving this goal,” said Bishop Gainer. “I am incredibly grateful to all those who support our Catholic schools financially and who have made today’s announcement possible. I especially want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the pastors, principals, teachers, staff and families in our Catholic schools. Your support, hard work and dedication are what make our Catholic schools exceptional. We would not have the strong educational system we do without you.”
“Our Diocese is blessed to house 29 parish-based elementary and 6 secondary schools, for a total of 35 Catholic schools. We have over 1,000 faculty members and staff and nearly 10,000 students. It is important to understand that like our parishes, every Catholic school in our Diocese operates as their own, independent entity and is a separate organization from the Diocese, meaning each of our schools manage their own operations, budgets, tuition, and fundraising needs,” said Breen. “Through the support of families, faculty and staff, and many generous donors, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Harrisburg are thriving. In our Diocese, we want every family to have access to a Catholic education, if they so choose.”
“Our company, RedefinED Advisors, was founded on the belief that a simple act of kindness can transcend generations, changing the course for entire families across multiple decades. The EITC program is just that – a way to pay it forward for students and families that need it most,” said Alyse Maslonik, founder of RedefinED Advisors LLC. “By partnering with many donors, $1M in scholarships has been secured for students to attend Catholic schools within the Diocese of Harrisburg. Catholic schools gave me an opportunity to thrive and there are many families and children that, because of the act of a stranger giving to the EITC program, they were also given a chance to thrive. I encourage anyone interested in participating in the EITC program to reach out to us at RedefinED. With more financial aid available, I encourage all parents – regardless of income – to witness the difference an affordable Catholic education can have in your child’s life.”
Catholic schools in the Diocese contracted with RedefinED Advisors for assistance in raising EITC monies. The funds raised for each school can only be used by that school for tuition scholarships, as per the guidelines of the EITC program.
Since 1868, the Catholic schools in the Diocese have educated thousands of students in faith and academics. Today, we have nearly 10,000 students and 1,000 teachers and staff in the Diocese’s 35 Catholic schools (29 elementary and six secondary). During the 2021-2022 school year, our students completed a total of more than 60,000 service hours and graduating seniors were offered approximately $38 million in college scholarships.
To learn about Catholic education in the Diocese of Harrisburg, contact your local Catholic school or visit www.gocatholicschools.org.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Rachel Bryson, M.S., The Catholic Witness