The Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri (Foundation) has created the Beyond Sunday Education Fund (Fund), an endowed fund, to increase access to Catholic education for middle-income families, while working to strengthen Catholic schools’ academic capacity and management systems to ensure their quality and competitiveness for all families in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The Foundation’s Board has approved enhanced distributions from the Fund in early years to meet immediate grant-making needs. The Beyond Sunday Education Fund will transform Catholic education in three key ways by providing:
- Scholarship Support for middle-income families;
- Academic Capacity Enhancement funding focusing on STREAM disciplines (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Math); and,
- Transformational Innovation to enhance operational and business models in our schools.
In its initial years, the Fund’s primary focus will be on deepening scholarship resources in the region for Catholic families and, when funds are available, for non-Catholic families seeking to attend Catholic schools.
In grades K-8, the focus will be on tuition support. At the level of grades 9-12, this scholarship program will be augmented by an emphasis on Catholic community through the Foundation’s Beyond Sunday Fellows program, a new program which will combine scholarship support with the creation of a network of Fellows focused on service and community. The intent is for the Fellows program to become a long-term network of Catholic adults, our future Catholic leaders, supporting one another in their faith and their lives.
The Foundation’s grant-making will also enable enhancement of academic programs and capacities. The subject matter will change over time but will begin with support to schools for “STREAM” curricula, i.e., the integration of the disciplines of Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics “to assist students in the development of communication skills, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration, built on a foundation of our Catholic faith.”* Grants in this area will build instructional capacity, with an emphasis on initiatives that can be replicated in schools across the Archdiocesan education system.
The St. Louis Archdiocesan Catholic school system is largely parochial and therefore decentralized. Hence, there is a need to reinforce Catholic identity and innovate at the level of individual schools or groups of schools and then spread that knowledge across a larger number of schools in Eastern Missouri. The purpose of Transformational Innovation grant-making is to seed those non-academic innovations that can then become transformational throughout the education system, specifically in areas of Catholic identity, teacher retention and management. Grant- making in this area will build over time, and the Foundation will provide technical assistance to early grantees to build experience with proposal development for innovation.
Each grant area will have specific performance metrics. The Foundation will create an Innovation Performance Partnership with a Catholic institution of higher education to assist grantees with performance metrics in the Innovation grants area. All performance metrics will be reported annually by the Foundation, and performance learning will help modify grant strategy as necessary over time. A formal evaluation process in the fifth year of operations will provide a rigorous assessment of successes and failures and will be used to adjust grant-making strategy.