This article, originally published in the Fulcrum Foundation 2004 Annual Report, is part of our “20 Years of Fulcrum” series.
South Tacoma is home to a diverse, working-class community. At the heart of this community is Visitation Catholic School. Started by the Benedictine Sisters in 1925, the school welcomed 170 students in its first year. Parents paid a monthly tuition fee of what amounted to the average hourly wage at the time: $1.00. In the 80 years since, the school has graduated nearly 2,300 students and, though much has changed, Visitation has remained a stable influence of Christian values and academic excellence for the community.
In a year that saw Visitation contend with its own survival, the school persevered as an acknowledged alternative to the neighborhood schools. Like all Catholic schools throughout the archdiocese, Visitation is distinguished by its ability to provide a personal learning environment where children can grow socially, academically, and spiritually. Children who have been bullied or in other ways are at odds socially or academically in another school are welcomed into a loving, Christian community. Families continually hail Visitation as a passport to hope for their children who have been failed by other institutions.
The unique importance of Visitation to Tacoma was immediately recognized when the school faced closure this spring. The community rallied to raise the money necessary to keep the school open while making plans to reverse declining enrollment. The Fulcrum Foundation was there, too. In addition to giving Visitation $40,000, Fulcrum solicited local donors to contribute to the school. Fulcrum assists the Pierce County Association for Catholic Education (PACE) in raising funds for schools in Pierce County through its St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Endowment Fund. The Fulcrum Foundation’s annual assistance to schools in need helps Catholic schools meet the financial demands of underserved communities where alternatives, such as faith-based personalized learning, are needed most.
Where is Visitation Catholic School in 2022?
Now called Visitation STEM Academy, Visitation is set to merge with St. Ann Parish on July 1, 2022. The school will change its name to Pope John XXIII and will eventually move to a new campus.
Fulcrum Snapshot: 2004
Executive Director: Colleen Oglesby
Total Tuition Assistance Disbursed: $382,800
Total School Assistance Disbursed: $402,000