Foundation Begins Work with Schools in Archdiocese of Boston

March 6, 2019

Six parish elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Boston will implement the Healey Education Foundation’s Advancement Methodology beginning in the 2019-20 school year. A new Director of Schools at the Foundation will oversee the daily collaborations with Boston-based schools.

“When my father started the Foundation, his vision was to strengthen the infrastructure of high-quality Catholic schools so they would sustain themselves over time,”said Christine Healey, President, Healey Education Foundation. “Many Boston families have come before us to secure schools, and we are so proud to join Cardinal O’Malley in his continued investment in the schools of the Archdiocese as we double down on meeting today’s challenges in this work. This can only be done together.”

Kathy Mears, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Boston, has been instrumental in establishing the partnership. “When I first came to the Archdiocese, I explained that I only know how to work on teams, not as isolated individuals,” she said. “A network of schools helping each other makes sense.”

“In beginning work with this cohort, Healey has thrown a little pebble into the pond. What these schools learn will help others too.” — Kathy Mears, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Archdiocese of Boston

One Principal’s Perspective

In her six years as Principal of St. Mary of the Assumption Elementary School (Brookline), Dr. Theresa Kirk has already tackled some of the issues that the Foundation often faces alongside its partner schools. While strong academically, the school is surrounded by excellent private schools within a two-mile radius. St. Mary’s hosts four widely attended open houses a year, initiated the successful Walk-in Wednesdays and – most importantly – knows its population and employs the family approach. “There’s nothing like a prospective parent talking to a current parent before signing on the dotted line,” Kirk said.

Students of St. Mary of the Assumption Elementary School (Brookline), one of six parish elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Boston that will work with the Healey Education Foundation

Other tactics include an October 1 Kindergarten entrance date, which is both a preference and a convenience for many parents, as well as a plan to secure international students in seventh and eighth grade. Students graduating from St. Mary’s go on to attend a variety of Catholic, independent and public schools, such as Boston Latin School, Boston College High School, Winsor School and Dexter Academy.

But the school has not yet achieved optimal enrollment, has facilities issues to manage and is still operating with an advisory board rather than a decision-making board with financial accountability. St. Mary’s also could use guidance with development and an annual fund.

“The opportunity to work with the cohort and Foundation at this time is a huge boost for us,” Kirk said. “Six years ago, I would have had too much else to focus on and had not yet built trust within the school. But now I’m all in.”

Reading Buddies. At St. Mary of the Assumption Elementary School (Brookline), Grade 5 partners with Kindergarten each week to assist with ELA and other fun activities


Kathleen Driscoll, Secretary for Institutional Advancement & Chief Development Officer, is overseeing development for the Archdiocese’s contribution to this initiative that will strengthen and reposition Catholic elementary schools for long-term sustainability and growth. “People really want to see Catholic education succeed here,” she said. “The mission has great momentum and is a leading interest of benefactors across the Archdiocese.”

Among supporters, Driscoll explained, are both Catholics and a growing number of non-Catholics including parents who know what Catholic school education provides. 

The Foundation is currently leading a Comprehensive Assessment phase for an in-depth look at each partner school’s family experience, student achievement and fiscal results. This phase will also include a market analysis and review of the school’s current enrollment management, development and board governance practices.

“I love the partnership of this initiative. With so many invested in the schools’ success, both financially and through their talent and time, we’re bound to strengthen these schools and many more for generations of students to come.” — Kathleen Driscoll, Secretary for Institutional Advancement & Chief Development Officer, Archdiocese of Boston

With the Foundation’s guidance and investment, each school will hire a Director of Advancement and will recruit board leadership to work on the school’s strategic vision. Priorities for new Boards of Specified Jurisdiction will be established in early 2020.


Healey Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, invests in PK-12 Catholic schools. The Foundation provides a high-impact program delivered through a coaching relationship with dioceses and schools that are ready to embrace change. Healey’s work For the Future of Catholic Schools empowers grant recipients to deliver sustainable results through effective governance, enrollment management and development. Since its establishment in 2004, the Foundation has grown to serve 85 elementary and high schools across seven dioceses in Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Foundation also co-founded and continues to support the Catholic Partnership Schools in Camden, NJ, through board participation and an annual grant.