Students in Holy Cross Academy, Rumson, sing in a December 2021 Christmas concert for the school community. The school has more than doubled the campaign fundraising goal of $5,000 for the 2021-2022 academic year. Courtesy photo
Students in Holy Cross Academy, Rumson, sing in a December 2021 Christmas concert for the school community. The school has more than doubled the campaign fundraising goal of $5,000 for the 2021-2022 academic year. Courtesy photo
" When you earmark what it’s going for … parents see that. I really think the school and parish work hand in hand. " Kevin Donahue principal, St. Benedict School, Holmdel

Building support for Catholic schools is one of the main focuses of Catholic Schools Week each year, and the Diocese of Trenton facilitates that support with an annual campaign which continues to see promising results.

“The Catholic Schools Have It All Annual Fund is a great way for alumni and supporters of a Catholic education to show financial support to our Catholic schools,” said Christine Prete, associate director of diocesan development operations. “Each year we reach out to more than 70,000 alumni and supporters by mail to ask for their help raising funds for grammar schools in the Diocese. Participation each year increases slowly, but steadily!”

Beginning in September, the multifaceted outreach seeks support of alumni and past supporters as well as new contributors, with its first major push on Giving Tuesday right after Thanksgiving. And indeed, the responses have been adding up: five schools have already met or exceeded the $5,000 fundraising goal.

“For the past four years we have incorporated Giving Tuesday into our annual outreach, which allows us to reach past those 70,000 alumni and engage our current school families and parishioners through digital communications,” Prete explained.

That included a 2021 promotional video on diocesan social and digital media with about a dozen Catholic school students in the Diocese discussing the value of the campaign and expressing their gratitude for their Catholic education.

As of press time, the total raised through the Catholic Schools Have it All campaign was $99,214 from 813 donors, with Giving Tuesday contributing $46,200 of the total.

“There will be two more outreaches this year … and we hope to surpass last year’s total raised, which was the all-time high for the annual fund,” Prete pointed out. The 2020-2021 campaign raised $130,000 by the end of the academic year.

St. Benedict School, Holmdel, has raised $7,640 so far through the Giving Tuesday portion of the campaign. The school has seen similar success each year since the effort began, offered principal Kevin Donahue.

“We’re just lucky to be surrounded by generous people who see the value of Catholic education,” he said. “We have a tremendous staff, including our director of marketing and events, Lori Ulrich … It’s truly a team effort.”

Donahue believes that having specific goals for the funds raised inspires the generosity among the school and parish community.

“We’ve done a lot of capital improvements,” he explained. “When you earmark what it’s going for … parents see that. I really think the school and parish work hand in hand.”

Dr. Mark DeMareo, principal of Holy Cross Academy, Rumson, said, “We are most grateful to all of our parents, staff and anonymous donors who were very generous.” To date, Holy Cross Academy has collected $12,485.

“Giving Tuesday allowed us the opportunity to raise even more money than we would on an average day of giving,” Dr. DeMareo continued. “We do not take for granted that our work would not be possible without [their] support. These donations directly benefit our students and staff.”

He credited one of the school parents, Kristin Sweeney, who chaired the Giving Tuesday campaign. “Through her efforts [we] contacted the school community through ParentSquare, our school-to-home communication platform. Mrs. Sweeney was also instrumental in collaborating with the parish and outside sponsors.”

Other schools that have met or exceeded the $5,000 goal include St. Leo the Great School, Lincroft ($14,190); St. Joan of Arc School, Marlton ($6,073); and St. Mary Academy, Manahawkin ($5,950).

“As an alumna of two Diocese of Trenton schools, I encourage alumni to become engaged in supporting their alma mater as a way to say ‘thank you,’” Prete encouraged. “A Catholic education is special in so many ways, and it should never be forgotten.”