Great Schools Fund Invests $600,000 Planning Grant in Faith in the Future

Grant will support planning for increased enrollment and improved accountability systems at 8 Catholic high schools in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia School Partnership’s Great Schools Fund awarded a $600,000 grant today to the Faith in the Future Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed in 2012 to oversee the management and operations of 17 area Catholic high schools and four schools of special education. The investment will support strategic planning and the building out of the organization’s central management capabilities, so that Faith in the Future can drive toward increased enrollment at eight high schools in Philadelphia that serve approximately 6,200 students and have the capacity to serve nearly double that amount.

“Faith in the Future’s high schools have among the highest college enrollment rates in Philadelphia, and this makes them crucial assets in the city’s pursuit of a quality education for every child,” said Mark Gleason, executive director of PSP. “The formation of an independent organization to manage and grow Catholic education across this region is a bold innovation. This investment will support the creation of an organization focused on developing schools with even better academic outcomes and improving access and outreach to families seeking a college-prep education.”

The investment brings the Great Schools Fund’s total investments to date in Catholic schools to more than $2.4 million. In total, Catholic schools enroll about 12 percent of Philadelphia’s schoolchildren. Because these schools receive very little revenue from public sources, they require a variety of types of philanthropic support, Gleason noted. With that support, they can play a crucial role in the citywide effort to ensure quality school options exist for every child. Part of PSP’s grant will support Faith in the Future’s investments in fundraising staff and expertise.

Faith in the Future is a nonprofit organization formed to oversee the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education in response to a Blue Ribbon Commission report released in January 2012 charged with developing a set of recommendations to stabilize declining enrollment in the Catholic school system. Faith in the Future is working to create a high-quality, sustainable school system by focusing on five key areas: enrollment, fundraising, leadership development, enhanced academic programming, and technology. The Great Schools Fund investment will support strategic planning, capacity building, and the development of growth strategies for each of the eight city high schools.

“We are grateful to PSP for recognizing that Catholic schools are critical to its efforts to increase access to high-quality schooling for all students in Philadelphia,” said Samuel Casey Carter, chief executive officer of Faith in the Future. “Students of diverse backgrounds are graduating from our schools and going on to college, and it is our goal to provide more young people in Philadelphia with this opportunity. We look forward to working with PSP in our shared goal of providing more families the option to attend a great school.”

Students attending Catholic high schools in Philadelphia go on to attend many selective colleges and universities, bringing with them millions of dollars a year in scholarships. Part of PSP’s investment in Faith in the Future is intended to help the new organization design the accountability and performance measurement systems required to document this achievement and attract more support for its students.

About the Great Schools Fund

PSP’s Great Schools Fund pools philanthropic dollars from a diverse group of funders to strategically invest in the incubation, startup and expansion of high-performing schools across Philadelphia. PSP has raised over $53 million toward the $100 million Fund goal. This round of grants brings PSP’s total investments in schools to $19.8 million for the cumulative creation of over 10,000 seats.

The Fund invests in K-12 schools of any type with the capacity to deliver outstanding educational outcomes for children in the city, including traditional district, charter, and private schools. The goal of the Fund is to replace the 35,000 lowest performing seats in Philadelphia by 2016-17 with higher performing ones by turning around low-performing schools, expanding high performing schools, or creating new high-quality schools. PSP’s investment team conducts a rigorous screening process for grant applicants to evaluate their capacity for delivering strong educational outcomes; its recommendations are vetted by an investment committee before being presented to the PSP Board of Directors for approval.