A few years ago, the Calgary Catholic School District board of trustees, staff, and school communities were faced with a difficult decision when the district considered moving away from gambling as a source of fundraising in its schools.
The board decided it was the right thing to do and the practice ended effective May 2010. There were some worries as to where the money would come from to provide the enhancements that had for many years and in many schools been funded through casinos.
Students in 46 Calgary Catholic schools will benefit from $1,006,502 in grants provided by the Calgary Catholic Education Foundation in December.
The grants will provide enhancements to schools in the form of additional initiatives, programs and resources for libraries, fine arts, technology, athletics, educational field trips, wellness and playgrounds.
The funding for this year's grants was made possible by donations from the foundation's two founding donors, the Clayton and Linda Woitas Family and Allan Markin who each gave the foundation $500,000 a year for the next three years.
The Calgary Catholic Education Foundation was founded last year partially in response to the district's move away from gambling as a source of fundraising. It is governed by a volunteer board of directors made up of leaders from Calgary's Catholic community.
The foundation has embarked on a fundraising initiative to raise $2 million a year over the next five years. Envelopes are also now distributed and collected in parishes on Catholic Education Sunday .
The foundation is dedicated to enhancing educational experiences of district students. Educational enhancements help create a more meaningful, engaging and supportive school environment and ultimately, improve student success.
Grants to district schools were awarded based on the foundation's four priority funding areas: social justice, academic advancement, enrichment activities and leadership development. These areas are considered by the foundation to be crucial in order to provide students with opportunities to achieve excellence, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.
"We're extremely pleased the foundation is able to support so many schools with such a variety of enhancements to make a difference in the educational experience of our students," said Tom McGee, board chair of the foundation.
The foundation, supported by the community, is a critically important resource for enhancing the future for the entire Catholic community in the diocese and CCSD.
The use of casinos in the Calgary Catholic School District is now a thing of the past. We believe we are stronger than ever and proud to be living our faith and working in a community that is so supportive of the work that we do.
(Dr. Lucy Miller is superintendent of the Calgary Catholic School District.)