This past year, you helped keep Bill Finneran’s legacy alive in Partnership Schools. Even a pandemic could not stop the joyful pursuit of excellence that Bill brought to our schools—all thanks to you.
Since you helped start it just a year ago, the William B. Finneran Fund has raised $1.44 million for scholarships. That means over 165 students are able to attend schools that are making even more of a difference in their lives now than ever before. Even a pandemic could not stop them: our students achieved a far higher rate of proficiency this year in math and English than peers in similar communities—by a compelling 10 to 19 percentage points.
But Bill never reduced children to statistics; he saw their individual needs and potential. Here are just a few of the striving students and families you helped this year.
As COVID and unemployment cut a vicious swatch through his South Bronx neighborhood, eighth grader Tierry Pierre watched his father continue to go to work at LaGuardia Airport, a high-risk endeavor before the vaccine. Tierry shared, “My dad would have to go to work every day because he was an essential worker and we need the money to live. At the same time, this felt unsafe for us. Faith was all we had depended on.” Tierry helped his mom with his sister, continued to work hard at school—first in remote classes and then back in person from the start of the school year—and this fall, he will start high school at All Hallows.
Landon Gomez was struggling with Kindergarten even before the pandemic, and his mom waged a struggle of her own to get clear communication from his charter school after they shared that he might have to be held back a year. Remote learning only made things worse. But thanks to a scholarship, she was able to transfer him to Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary—where he is thriving. You can read more about his family’s journey in the Partnership Post here.
Single dad Ferdinand Bonneau knew had raised his son Aiden to be purpose-driven and well-spoken, but the public school he was attending did not support Aiden in a way that either father or son thought likely to earn him admission to the kind of high school both dreamed of. He transferred to Our Lady Queen of Angels in sixth grade, and with the help of both his teachers and the Partnership’s high school placement support, Aiden is attending Xavier High School in the fall, where he is looking forward to joining the debate and wrestling teams.
Kaleena Melo has always been really shy—to the point where her mother feared that a school would either overlook her or send her to counseling for social problems. But Kaleena thrived at Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary, has helped her younger sister do the same, and is headed to Cristo Rey New York High School, where she will begin their signature work-study program in the fall. Her mom worked hard to pay the parent portion of her Partnership tuition, and notes that “People just don’t understand how I could have the choice of having my child go to the tuition-free school across the street and not take it. I have a friend whose child goes to that school. And the poor thing is lost in the system. And my oldest is thriving, and being exposed to an amazing curriculum, and opportunities coming her way.”
Sophie Kouyate, a refugee who came to the United States in search of a better life for herself and her children, sees Catholic school as a key part of achieving that dream—even though the family is Muslim. “I’ll work three jobs if I have to,” she says, in order to keep her youngest, Mahawa, on the path to Catholic high school and college. But when their East Harlem Catholic elementary school closed five years ago, Sophie worried that the pathway which had helped her older son and daughter make their way to college and professional jobs might be closing for Mahawa. She found Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary that year, qualified for financial assistance, and now Mahawa is on her way to St. Jean Baptiste High School—and the bright future her mother is working so hard for.
The challenges faced by Partnership families began long before the pandemic, and they will continue after it is gone. But each of their children has a chance to thrive well into the future with your sustained support.
You have given them more than just another year at schools they love; you have given them—and us—hope. And for that, we can’t say it enough: thank you.