St. Bonaventure’s College is paying it forward.
The school’s tag line “From Here to a Just World” speaks to the importance of justice as a right for all families. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the college.
As the only Catholic school on the east coast of Newfoundland, it struggles with financial challenges of its own. Even so, it recently gave a $600 donation to CCSTA’s Toonies for Tuition program. The Toonies for Tuition initiative is one of the key ways of generating dollars for the CCSTA Endowment Fund that assists students in Catholic schools with tuition costs in provinces with limited or no public funding.
Nina Beresford, president of St. Bonaventure’s, said those at the school understand how challenging it is to open and operate a school, as well as offer quality programming provided by experienced and qualified teachers. This is made especially difficult when the sole source of funding comes from tuition, donations and fundraising.
“Our greatest challenge is certainly financial since we receive no government funding to assist in running our school and educating our students – unlike the majority of provinces in Canada,” Beresford said.
At the same time, she said the school is appreciated and needed on the educational landscape in Newfoundland. “We realize how valuable this school is to the parents who have chosen to make Catholic education a priority and to send their children to this, or any other, reputable school,” she said. To that end, the school raises a tuition assistance bursary annually to support those families who wish to have their children attend the school, but do not have sufficient means to do so.
Due to their personal insight of how difficult that can be, staff and students at St. Bonaventure’s College hold a Toonies for Tuition day each year in order to help other schools and students in similar positions. During the annual event, all children are asked to bring a contribution.
“The national program provides an opportunity for students in all Catholic schools across Canada to assist other Catholic schools (which) are struggling, by contributing to that tuition payment of students in need,” she said. “This is a fantastic way to collectively make a dramatic difference in the lives of the children who get this opportunity.”
In addition, the school’s parents’ auxiliary has proven supportive each year, using its fundraising to top up the amount so the school can send a substantial contribution to the fund.
CCSTA executive director, John Stunt, said St. Bonaventure’s actions are inspiring. “It’s a remarkable way to instill a sense of giving back in the students,” he said.
Beresford said that because St. Bonaventure’s is a Jesuit school, donating to Toonies for Tuition weaves into its mandate of supporting families in need. That successful support carries through life, with Beresford noting that some of these students have graduated from high school and gone on to university and college. “We feel our school has given them a sturdy leg up and we are proud of that,” she said. “We would like to be able to do the same for many more children.”
The Toonies for Tuition initiative sees schools, boards, parishes and organizations hold special days for fundraising – a toonie at a time. CCSTA established the Endowment Fund eight years ago and has since distributed more than $107,000 in tuition assistance. About $37,000 was raised for the fund last year and allocated for the 2012-13 school year.
“I hope other schools will recognize the need to come on board and hold one simple fundraiser to help other students experience a quality Catholic education in a safe and supportive environment,” Beresford said of donating to Toonies for Tuition.