CATHOLIC FOUNDATION AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS MONEY TO HELP PARENTS PAY TUITION AT THREE A.V. SCHOOLS.
PALMDALE - The Catholic Education Foundation, which helps needy families pay Catholic school tuition, has awarded $40,500 for Antelope Valley youngsters for the upcoming school year.
The awards are $28,500 for Paraclete High School in Lancaster, $4,000 for Sacred Heart in Lancaster and $8,000 for St. Mary's in Palmdale.
The foundation this year is giving out $28 million in scholarships, which will allow 5,021 disadvantaged children to attend 227 Catholic elementary and high schools in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Founded by Cardinal Roger Mahony in 1988, the Catholic Foundation has awarded more than $32 million in scholarships to 40,000 children since its inception.
With 100,000 students, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles enroll the third-largest number of students in the state after the Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts.
``I know how much this organization has contributed to the lives of young people,'' foundation President Richard Ferry said. ``For many, the opportunity to attend a Catholic school has helped them realize their dreams of leading fulfilling, productive lives.''
This year's grants match last year's record amount. The program has doubled in the last five years and has grown ninefold since 1988, when the foundation allocated $500,000 to help 740 children.
The average cost of attending an archdiocesan elementary school is $2,000 a year; the average high school tuition is $3,500.
According to Foundation Executive Director Hugh J. Ralston, interest in Catholic school education is growing because of its demonstrated success in educating children, particularly across social, economic and ethnic lines.
``For well over a century, Catholic schools have distinguished themselves by recognizing that there is something special in each and every child that needs to be valued and nurtured,'' Ralston said. ``We believe that all children can succeed regardless of their parents' education, income or ethnic background. Finally, Catholic schools are never value neutral,'' he continued. ``Each and every day, Catholic school students are taught the difference between right and wrong and encouraged to do the right thing.''
The area's Catholic schools have a high school dropout rate of less than 3 percent, and 95 percent of Catholic high school graduates go on to two- or four-year colleges, archdiocese officials say. Their enrollment is 44 percent Latino, 15 percent Asian-American or Pacific Islander and 8 percent African-American. Thirteen percent are non-Catholics.