Feb 19, 2014

Cathedral launches tuition fund campaign with gift, grant from D’Amours



(Iobserve file photos/Rebecca Drake)

Staff report

SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to provide greater financial assistance to families seeking a Catholic secondary education, Cathedral High School has launched a nationwide drive and outreach to its alumni and friends with the goal of gathering commitments and pledges to build a $10 million Cathedral Endowment Fund for Tuition Assistance.  

In a letter sent to more than 21,000 alumni, Cathedral High School president, Ann M. Southworth, and board chairperson, Patrick Garrity (Class of 1981) announced that Michele Gaudette D’Amour (Class of 1969) and Donald D’Amour, longtime supporters of Catholic education, have kicked off the campaign with both a $500,000 leadership gift and a companion challenge grant which, if successful, would add another $1 million to the endowment fund.

“We are most grateful to the D’Amours for once again recognizing the importance which a Catholic education plays in the lives of not only its students but the community as a whole,” Southworth said. “And we hope others will now follow their lead and help us to address this important need to make this educational opportunity affordable for more families.”

Under the terms of the challenge grant, the D’Amours will make an additional gift of $500,000 when 1,500 donors have responded with either a gift or pledge. When that number reaches 2,000, they will make a third gift of $500,000. Thus, every donor will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to maximize whatever gift amount they choose to pledge.

On Sept. 11, 2013, when announcing a settlement of the insurance claims related to the June 1, 2011 tornado that destroyed the Cathedral High School campus, Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell challenged the CHS community to create a tuition endowment fund so that the future of the beloved Catholic high school would be more financially viable for all interested families. In the current academic year, 57 percent of the students attending Cathedral receive tuition assistance. Many other families have asked for scholarship assistance but the school doesn’t currently have the financial resources to accommodate them.

The D’Amours are among the first to respond by making their leadership gift and challenge grant.

“‘There is a time for every purpose under heaven.’ After a long, arduous and ultimately successful negotiation process, Cathedral is ready to rebuild,” said Cathedral High alumna Michele Gaudette D’Amour. “Thus, it is time for all interested parties to join together in order to secure Cathedral’s long-term growth and show support for Catholic education in our diocese. Don and I are grateful to be able to offer a financial challenge to this critical effort.”

In addition to the D’Amour leadership gift, a number of other supporters have come forward and made commitments totaling more than $100,000 to the Cathedral Endowment Fund for Tuition Assistance Campaign. Combined with previous Cathedral High tuition assistance funds, these gifts would make $1 million available towards the campaign goal, not including the D’Amour challenge grants.

In making his appeal to the Cathedral community, Bishop McDonnell made it clear that payment on pledges and gifts would only begin when construction commences. 

In their joint letter, Southworth and Garrity encouraged the Cathedral community to respond now at this critical time in the school’s 130-year history.

“It is rare if, in a lifetime, one gets the chance to be at the right place at the right time, but here we are with an opportunity to make a lasting difference for Cathedral,” they wrote. “Through the kindness, generosity, and hard work of many generations, Cathedral has been the backbone of Western Massachusetts secondary education for more than 130 years. Thousands of wonderful people gave of their resources and time so that Cathedral could educate the leaders of yesterday and today. Now, we have the opportunity to make sure that a new generation of students can receive a superior Catholic education in a culture of faith and values.”

This sentiment was echoed by Michele Gaudette D’Amour.

“The future requires an up-to-date facility, but also a respectable endowment fund to provide financial assistance to those who desire to benefit from the unique opportunity to educate the whole person,” she said. “It is time for all alumni, friends, committee members, political leaders and all who are committed to seeing a new and vibrant Cathedral in the city of Springfield to walk the walk and contribute whatever they can in this noble effort.”