Several months ago, while schools were moving to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, principals from across the Archdiocese of Seattle met remotely every morning to discuss the concerns their schools faced—remote learning, reduced tuition revenue, cancelled fundraisers, and much more.
And after listening to the principals and learning of their increased need for emergency financial assistance, the Fulcrum Foundation came up with a plan.
“It is up to us to get our schools the resources they need so they can focus on teaching,” Executive Director Vivian Shannon said. “The Fulcrum Foundation wants to remove some of the burden and uncertainty so that the schools can focus on educating their students.”
Things moved quickly. In April 2020, the Fulcrum Board of Trustees approved the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund with an immediate $1 million infusion from Fulcrum’s reserves.
The Archdiocese of Seattle and Catholic Community Services/Housing Services (CCS/CHS) joined the relief efforts, partnering with Fulcrum at the request of Archbishop Paul D. Etienne. While the archdiocese and CCS/CHS focused on aid for parishes, housing, and social services, Fulcrum lived its mission in gathering support for archdiocesan schools.
“When the Fulcrum Foundation shared the details of the COVID-19 Relief Fund with the principals, many described this fund as ‘manna from heaven!’” said Kristin Dixon, the superintendent for Catholic schools. “Truly, we are so very grateful for the work of the Fulcrum Foundation on behalf of our schools during these extreme times.”
Preliminary fundraising efforts have been extraordinary, according to Julie Coleman, managing director of the Uplift campaign. “As the pandemic has taken hold, our donors continue to inspire and motivate us to continue our work of service in solidarity with our schools.”
All three organizations have seen an outpouring of generosity from donors giving above and beyond what they would normally give.
Nicholas Ford, principal of Our Lady of Fatima School, and his wife, Rachel, donated to the fund to assist families adversely impacted by the pandemic.
“Rachel and I have been blessed to work in and attend Catholic schools and are committed to their mission,” Nicholas said. “When we received our stimulus funds from the CARES Act, we knew that we wanted to donate those funds to Fulcrum’s COVID relief effort to help ensure that Catholic education remains viable for schools and families even in the midst of this pandemic.”
At the beginning of July, Fulcrum opened applications to the relief fund to all archdiocesan schools in preparation for the back-to-school season.
“We’re seeing three main categories of need from the schools,” said Susan Ocoma, Fulcrum’s programs director. “Number one by far is tuition assistance for families affected directly by COVID. Number two is getting classrooms and school campuses ready for in-person learning. Number three is technology, making sure they have enough devices for all students.”
Fulcrum’s COVID-19 Fund will attempt to address all these issues, allowing schools to apply for aid as needed.
“The Fulcrum Foundation Emergency Relief Fund is truly a lifesaver for many of our families,” said Rick Boyle, principal of St. Luke School. “Without this support, they would not be able to send their children to St. Luke School. I am humbled and filled with hope because of this very generous fund.”
Dan Anderson, principal of Assumption Catholic School in Bellingham, said: “With so many unknowns in our near future, it’s such a blessing to have the support of the Fulcrum Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to provide quality hybrid instruction, whether our students are at home or at school.”
But there’s more work to be done. Through Fulcrum’s fall annual appeal, the COVID-19 Fund will go wide to donors in late August. Though these times are difficult, Fulcrum is committed to standing in solidarity with Catholic schools, principals, teachers, and families as we approach the uncertainty of the next school year together.
We ask that you stand with us and use the link below to donate what you can to support Catholic schools throughout the pandemic.
“Please know that we take great comfort and courage from your partnership with us and your willingness to support our students, staff, and school leaders,” Kristin said. “We know that God has chosen each one of us to guide and support Catholic schools during this extraordinary time. Thank you!”