In the long run, The Education Fund seeks to ensure that Catholic education not only impassions the heart but inspires the mind. The Catholic educational program must reflect best emerging infrastructure and standards that provide an academic experience commensurate with, or superior to, competing institutions. Critical areas of academic study will change as the economy changes, and new skills will be required as the advancement of knowledge creates new frontiers of understanding. These changes will need to be included in educational curricula to ensure competitiveness.
In Catholic education, there is a growing movement to integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with the arts (“A”) and Religion (“R”). Hence STREAM is Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics: “STREAM is the intentional integration of the individual disciplines…to assist students in the development of communication skills, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration, built on a foundation of our Catholic faith” (NCEA Momentum magazine).
STREAM is an example of current approaches to academic substantive integration. Over time, and within the specific needs of specific schools, there may be additional approaches to academic excellence. The Education Fund’s purpose is to contribute to the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of Catholic education. Thus, its support for academic capacity enhancement must enable current academic approaches and be open to new approaches and needs.
The objectives of Academic Capacity Enhancement funding are three-fold:
- Measurably and continually improve the quality of teaching and learning materials, equipment and classroom capacity, and teaching methods in the elementary, middle and high schools in the Archdiocese;
- Improve the competitiveness of Catholic schools relative to other schools in the St. Louis area; and,
- Encourage collaboration among schools to ensure efficiency and enhance access to the academic specialties of STREAM.
These grants will be targeted at K-12 school capacities in all ten Deaneries. Grant recipients will be limited to parochial and Archdiocesan schools and education programs. Grants to the Catholic Education Office will be considered to establish baselines of capacity across the system which will facilitate the establishment of capacity enhancement priorities.
Application and Disbursement Process
The Foundation will manage the call for proposals, assessment, and awards process, in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Catholic Education Office. The call for proposals will be annual.
Schools, groups of schools, or the Catholic Education Office may submit applications to the Foundation. Every application must include a letter of endorsement by the Archdiocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education. Parish schools must include a letter of endorsement from the pastor or leader of a parish with which the applicant is involved. Application requirements will include operating budget detail to ensure that proposed improvements are financially sustainable after the Foundation’s grant support ends. They must also contain specific and appropriate performance measures relative to capacity, quality or competitiveness.
Levels of funding will be determined by available resources, but the intent is for those resources to be allocated to grants of sufficient size to make measurable progress against objectives. Hence, this grant-making area is likely to make fewer grants of larger sizes, and these grants may need to be multi-year commitments where infrastructure improvements are needed.
The Foundation will manage grant disbursements based on a grant agreement with the awardee school(s). Grant agreements will include performance measure reporting.
Recognizing that schools may not have the internal capacity to develop state-of-the-art grant proposals, especially in areas of rapidly changing science and technology, the Foundation will develop an Academic Capacity Advisory Committee to this grant area. This Committee will be comprised of Catholic leaders from industries and academic and professional institutions in Eastern Missouri with relevant areas of expertise. Its members will be available to schools to assist in identifying capacity improvement initiatives, and to the Foundation for the development of the grant-making process and for grant application assessment. The Foundation will manage the creation and staffing of this Advisory Committee.
Performance Reporting Process
Measurable changes in STREAM capacity, quality and competitiveness may extend beyond the life of a grant. Grants may extend beyond one year. Grant-making will be reported annually, but performance of the academic support grants themselves will be reported on a biannual basis because the educational results of capacity building grants are likely to take multiple years for adequate results to be seen and measured.