May 23, 2007, New York, NY-Thousands of needy New York City school children will now benefit from the excellent and highly regarded education offered in Catholic inner city schools thanks to a recording-breaking gift of $22.5 million to the Archdiocese of New York from Robert Wilson, a philanthropist and former Wall Street investor.


There are currently 8000 seats available to any student who wishes to attend a Catholic inner-city school. Mr. Wilson’s gift will enable 3000 children to fill those empty seats this coming September. The $22.5 million is earmarked for the Cardinal’s Scholarship Program, which was begun in 2005 with a mandate to provide scholarships to needy children to fill every empty seat in Archdiocesan inner city schools by 2010.  During the first two years of the program, 3700 students have received scholarships and now attend the Catholic inner city school of their choice.  The total cost of the scholarships is $158 million, of which more than $97 million has already been raised including Mr. Wilson’s generous gift.  Another donor who wishes to remain anonymous has learned of Mr. Wilson’s gift, and has given an additional $4.5 million to the Cardinal’s Scholarship Program. 


His Eminence, Edward Cardinal Egan has expressed his gratitude for "such historic and far-sighted support from Mr. Wilson for the education and future well being of our neediest children in the Archdiocese." 


The Cardinal’s Scholarship Program is the Archdiocesan response to thousands of New York families living at or below the poverty line who want a high quality Catholic education but cannot afford tuition costs. The Program’s campaign was started in 2005 by a unique partnership among Cardinal Egan, The Children’s Scholarship Fund, The Inner City Scholarship Fund, The Endowment for Inner City Education, The Patrons Program, and the Archdiocesan Department of Education. To date, the Cardinal’s Scholarship Fund has awarded 3,700 scholarships with a maximum individual tuition value of  $2,100 per year. 

A Catholic school education gives children living in poverty the tools for a better life, and education policymakers and historians have long recognized Catholic inner city education as the cure for poor academic performance and social dysfunction. Sol Stern, a journalist and Fellow of the Manhattan Institute, said that "America’s Catholic schools have helped turn millions of disadvantaged children into responsible, productive citizens, thereby contributing to the public good."


Students attending Catholic inner city elementary schools in the Archdiocese have out-performed New York City public school students in the 4th and 8th grade Math and English Language Arts standardized tests in each of the past five years. Ninety-eight percent of Catholic high school seniors in New York graduate in four years and nearly all of them are admitted to college. The school drop out rate is less than 1\%.  An "extended day" academic enrichment program bolsters these accomplishments and a two-year "principals academy" is being developed to prepare Catholic teachers to lead the Catholic schools of the future.


The inner city schools of the New York Archdiocese have earned the respect of a large cadre of generous supporters who recognize the schools’ unique ability to transform the lives of their students.  The Patrons Program encourages individuals to "adopt" schools and give freely of their financial and organization skills and support.  Low-income students can be sponsored by participants in the Be a Student’s Friend Program. The Student Sponsor Program gives tuition assistance to needy eighth graders who want to go on to Catholic high school. 


An ambitious outreach campaign has been launched by the Inner City Scholarship Fund and the Archdiocesan Department of Education to tell families of public school children in all elementary grades, as well as children just starting school in September 2007 about the thousands of scholarships supported by Mr. Wilson’s gift. Church parishes, Catholic Charities agencies, community organizations, settlement houses, day care centers, Head Start programs and Catholic schools throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island will have information about the Cardinal’s Scholarship Program.  Open houses and Internet-based assistance will help parents apply for the scholarships.  The most important criterion for eligibility is need.  Parents can call 212-515-7137 or go to on the Internet for information about the scholarships and locations for open houses.