CSCOE grants support excellence, enrollment

Thanks to the generous, visionary funders of the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE), Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis can now seek and receive grant money for projects that further CSCOE’s two primary missions — achieving and maintaining excellence, and increasing enrollment.

Many schools have already used these grants to create or enhance their early-childhood programs and upgrade their technology offerings.

Schools with top-notch child care and preschool programs often have an edge when it comes to attracting and retaining families, many of whom make their school choices well before kindergarten. Before applying for grant money, schools that don’t currently have early childhood programs, or who want to expand or improve their existing programs, can call on CSCOE’s early-childhood consultant to visit and assess their school. The consultant’s recommendations — and the school’s own goals — can then form the basis for a grant request. Sixteen schools have already received grants (about 35 total are pursuing funds).

What school wouldn’t love the latest technology to enhance academic excellence? To help schools afford the iPads,

Chromebooks, specialized software, or other technology they need most, CSCOE has engaged an IT firm to conduct school technology assessments — much like the early-childhood assessments — which can then be used to request grant money for technology tools and training. CSCOE’s main focus in 2016 is technology training; their goal is for every teacher to have the technology tools and training to achieve excellent outcomes in the classroom.

But support isn’t limited to early childhood and technology. CSCOE has helped schools offer tuition assistance or family discounts. They’ve even funded an experimental busing program at two schools whose parish boundaries don’t align with their public school district boundaries (St. Jerome Catholic School in Maplewood and St. John the Baptist Catholic School in New Brighton), enabling them to hire their own buses. And because enrollment success also depends on marketing, CSCOE can provide training, ideas and support for schools to promote their open houses, for example, or offer giveaways like logoed backpacks.

Understanding that each Catholic school has a unique identity and path toward excellence, CSCOE recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach is not the best way to assist schools. Principals and school leaders will continue to set the strategy for each school, but CSCOE hopes to support them by sharing best practices and removing any barriers to success.

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Catholic Schools Center of Excellence