Plank do­nates $1 mil­lion for grants

Gift will fund schol­ar­ships for 100 Bal­ti­more stu­dents to Catholic schools in city

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Erica L. Green­ twit­­caLG

The Catholic Arch­dio­cese of Bal­ti­more will of­fer 100 more schol­ar­ships for city stu­dents to at­tend its schools, thanks to a $1 mil­lion do­na­tion from Un­der Ar­mourCEO Kevin Plank.

Plank’s char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Cupid Foun­da­tion, pre­sented the gift at the arch­dio­cese’s an­nual back-to-school break­fast.

Church of­fi­cials said it would sup­port the Part­ners in Ex­cel­lence schol­ar­ship pro­gram, which they said has pro­vided more than 25,000 need-based schol­ar­ships to el­e­men­tary and high school stu­dents to at­tend Catholic schools in the city dur­ing the past 20 years.

“On be­half of the many chil­dren who will greatly ben­e­fit from this gift, I of­fer my sin­cere thanks to Mr. Kevin Plank and the Cupid Foun­da­tion for their con­fi­dence and sup­port in the abil­ity of Catholic schools to trans­form the lives of the chil­dren en­trusted to their care,” Arch­bishop Wil­liam E. Lori said in a state­ment.

The arch­dio­cese, fac­ing ris­ing costs and de­clin­ing en­roll­ment, closed more than a dozen schools in 2010.

A spokesman for the arch­dio­cese said an in­de­pen­dent 18-month study of the health of Catholic schools in and around Bal­ti­more is un­der­way.

“To­day’s gen­er­ous gift ... will al­low us to ed­u­cate even more chil­dren, and will free up valu­able re­sources that we can in­vest in pro­gram­ming, fa­cil­i­ties and tech­nol­ogy that will help keep our schools com­pet­i­tive and in­crease aca­demic rigor,” Sean Caine said.

Car­di­nal Wil­liam H. Keeler and busi­ness leader Ray­mond “Chip” Ma­son cre­ated the PIE schol­ar­ship in 1996 to help pro­vide a high-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion to stu­dents in dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties.

Most of the stu­dents who have ben­e­fited from the schol­ar­ships come from fam­i­lies with an av­er­age house­hold in­come of $34,184, ac­cord­ing to the arch­dio­cese. Ninety-six per­cent are non­white, and 79 per­cent are non-Catholic.

Nine out of 10 schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ents grad­u­ated from Catholic high schools in four years, and more than 80 per­cent went on to col­lege.

Tom Ged­des, CEO of Plank In­dus­tries and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cupid Foun­da­tion, said the arch­dio­cese was cho­sen for the $1 mil­lion gift be­cause Catholic schools have a rep­u­ta­tion for ed­u­ca­tional suc­cess.

“When look­ing for ways to help in our city, Kevin Plank likes tried-and-tested pro­grams that work,” Ged­des said.

The do­na­tion comes as Plank’s Sag­amore De­vel­op­ment Co. seeks $660 mil­lion in tax­payer-backed bonds to fund con­struc­tion of roads, parks, util­i­ties and other in­fra­struc­ture around his $5.5 bil­lion Port Covington project.

The Cupid Foun­da­tion do­nated $1 mil­lion in July to the Col­legeBound Foun­da­tion, a Bal­ti­more-based non­profit that has helped thou­sands of city grad­u­ates at­tend and com­plete col­lege.

Bal­ti­more’s Catholic schools have also ben­e­fited from a new state pro­gram that helps low-in­come fam­i­lies pay for pri­vate school.

The Broad­en­ing Op­tions and Op­por­tu­ni­ties for Stu­dents To­day pro­gram was ap­proved by the Mary­land leg­is­la­ture this year.

Roughly $5 mil­lion in schol­ar­ships was awarded to the in­au­gu­ral group of low­in­come Mary­land stu­dents to at­tend pri­vate schools.

Of the more than 3,000 ap­pli­ca­tions cer­ti­fied by the state Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, more than 600 stu­dents chose schools in the Arch­dio­cese of Bal­ti­more, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion. About 38 per­cent of them were new to Catholic schools.

Th­es­tu­dents re­ceived a to­tal of $1.5 mil­lion in BOOST schol­ar­ships to at­tend Arch­bishop Bor­ders, Car­di­nal Shehan, Holy An­gels and other schools. As a re­sult of the pro­gram, en­roll­ment at Car­di­nal Shehan School in the North­wood sec­tion of the city is up nearly100 stu­dents this year.

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