Business Smarts and Big Hearts Aid Boston’s Catholic Schools

May 20, 2020

The Healey Education Foundation’s partner schools in Boston are benefiting through their own leadership, government stimulus funding and philanthropic support during the 2020 pandemic. Along with their parishes, the six schools have been applying for and receiving word of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) awards, more than $1.7 million in total to date.

One School’s Story: “When You Pray, Move Your Feet”

Julie Marotta, Principal of St. Mary of the Hills School (Milton), leads with that rare combination of strategic thinking, relationship building and planning skills required by Catholic schools that are taking charge of their own futures. As reported on Facebook, she delivered personal greetings and some surprises during Teacher Appreciation Week. 

Efforts by St. Mary of the Hills School (Milton) were already well underway when the Foundation shared about our early experience with COVID-19 relief funding.

Once the funding opportunities were announced, Julie Marotta, Principal, and Janice Powell, Parish Business Manager, were on the phone planning their application. The two have always maintained a close working relationship.

“We needed to be prepared every step of the way. Our goal was to go for the maximum amount in support of the school, the teachers and our families,” Janice said. “We were ready to go once the loan hit our account to have the biggest impact for St. Mary’s School.”  

Through Janice’s relationship with the Finance Department in the Archdiocese of Boston, she always worked to be proactive. She and Julie also found a local bank that they knew was committed to moving swiftly in supporting Catholic education. 

“If we didn’t take the opportunity to go after this for our school, we’d risk having to close our doors. And my first thought was for the students. I worried where they would end up if St. Mary of the Hills wasn’t there for them anymore.” – Julie Marotta, Principal

Philanthropists Unite via Advocacy and Emergency Support

Helping schools help themselves. This theme is inherent in the Healey Education Foundation approach to Catholic school governance. During the pandemic, it is also playing out in Boston as the philanthropic community rallies in support of Catholic schools.

Through the Petition for Private School Support in CARES ACT, faculty, board members, parents and other stakeholders respectfully asked Governor Baker to consider allocating a portion of the funds provided to him through the Fund for relief to private schools across the state. The petition was initiated by Peter Lynch, Chairman of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, and championed by many other Catholic philanthropists including Jack Connors Jr., Chairman of the Campaign for Catholic Schools. (See the joint letter to the editor, Boston Globe.)

At the Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF), the team realized immediately the need to reach out to schools to offer additional support. CSF increased its frequency of emergency funding grants, opportunities open to all schools and families that suffer difficult times throughout the year. Additionally, the Foundation created a second emergency fund to supplement the first, focused on those who would have even more trouble paying tuition.

However, Michael Reardon, Executive Director, knew that CSF could only do so much and wanted to be sure schools worked to get all the support they could. The Foundation required that all schools applying for emergency funding through CSF must also have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Our donors aim to support all families in search of a Catholic education, but those funds only reach their maximum impact if schools do everything they can to generate resources themselves. In order to make that happen, we needed to ensure schools first pursued the opportunities available through the CARES Act.” – Michael Reardon, Executive Director, CSF

All six Healey partner schools in Boston applied for and successfully received PPP funding. They continue to advocate for available subsidies throught the CARES Act as they balance the business requirements for running their schools with providing care for teachers, students and families.

Another School’s “Now and Then”

As all of the Healey Education Foundation’s Boston partners work to cope with the pandemic, many schools, like St. Theresa of Avila (West Roxbury), share their journey on social media.

St. Theresa of Avila School (West Roxbury) moved forward in May through remote learning and outreach to families. As shared on Facebook: K2’s “crazy hat” day, Cinco de Mayo celebrated virtually, First Communion rescheduled (featuring a “throwback” photo) and sixth grade graduation signs designed by a parent.

Through joint applications with the parish, the school was among those awarded funds through the Paycheck Protection Program. The mission continues.


See regularly updated CARES Act Resources, including information on PPP Loan Forgiveness as well as on the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, both part of the Education Stabilization Fund.