Special education students participate in the program with sign language.

Special education students participate with sign language in this year’s Catholic schools’ kick-off event in Philadelphia. Support for special education remains a priority for the Archdiocesan Educational Fund, which announced its list of 33 grantees totaling more than $1.3 million this year. (Photo by Sarah Webb)

When Matthew H. (Matt) McCloskey Jr. founded the Archdiocesan Educational Fund in 1967 with an initial gift of $500,000 and a goal of assisting Catholic secondary education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, he could have just as easily named it the McCloskey Fund, because he was the sole donor.

But he didn’t. A self-made millionaire in the contracting business, he reasoned that if the fund should seek outside donors it would do better if it wasn’t viewed as a family foundation.

Actually, it never did seek outside donors and has been operating more than 50 years now, still headed by a family member, at this point Matthew H. (Matt) McCloskey IV as president. That original donation was bolstered by a more than $5 million bequest after Matt McCloskey Jr. died in 1973.

Over the past half-century the fund has made more than $50 million in grants, mostly to Catholic education programs well beyond the secondary schools and special projects in the archdiocese, thanks to careful fund management, and it is still going strong.

In this past year grants exceeded $1.3 million, according to McCloskey, the current president.

Generally speaking, the Archdiocesan Educational Fund does not give tuition grants to students nor does it contribute to building funds. Its main focus is on seed money for new innovative programs in Catholic education or evangelization, or for major one-time events. For example the fund made a major donation toward hosting the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015.

“We are looking at new initiatives and new ideas,” McCloskey said. As a typical example he mentioned a $76,500 grant to Mercy Career and Technical High School (formerly Mercy Vocational High School) to expand its Health Occupations Program, which prepares students for certifications needed to work in the health care field or for future education in the field.

In the past it was the Archdiocesan Educational Fund that got BLOCS (Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools) off the ground through a large grant, and another grant funded the Blue Ribbon Commission that reorganized the Catholic schools almost a decade ago.

Recently there have been grants to programs at several Newman Centers at area secular colleges. “Vocations come from these programs,” McCloskey said. “They will be the Catholic leaders of the future.”

While most grants are for one year, two at maximum, one has been a constant. That has been to the archdiocesan schools of special education, a ministry that is dear to the heart of the McCloskey family.

One important change is how the fund, keeping up with the times, has professionalized the process through a switch from grants made in response to suggestions from the archdiocese to formal grant requests submitted by the school or the entity involved, in a program designed by Patricia Canning, the fund’s grant administrator.

“We are acting like a real foundation now. We follow foundation standards and we don’t act until we see receipts,” McCloskey said.

Below is a list of this year’s grant recipients. For full descriptions of the grants given and for instructions how to apply for a grant from the Archdiocesan Educational Fund, see the website ArchEdFund.org. Grants are only made through online application.

Grants Awarded by the Archdiocesan Educational Fund for the 2018-19 Academic Year

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Office of Catholic Education — Special Education Schools
Philadelphia, Pa.
“Sensory Library for the Schools of Special Education”
$7,520

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Office of Catholic Education
Philadelphia, Pa.
“BrainSTEPS”
$5,000

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Office of Catholic Education
Philadelphia, Pa.
“El Puente: Multicultural Outreach & Ministry”
$43,000

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Office of Catholic Education — Department of Technology
Philadelphia, Pa.
“STEM Lending Library”
$32,000

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Office of Catholic Education
Philadelphia, Pa.
“Alternative Seating”
$18,000

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Office of Catholic Education
Philadelphia, Pa.
“Narrowing the Gap — Data-Driven Instruction for Struggling Students”
$54,800

Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pa.
“Archbishop’s Discretionary Funding”
$50,000

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Office for Catechetical Formation
Philadelphia, Pa.
“FORMED.org Subscriptions for High School Theology Departments”
$19,000

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Office for Black Catholics
Philadelphia, Pa.
“St. Luke’s Production: Tolton, From Slave to Priest”
$14,000

Catholic Historical Research Center of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pa.
“To Touch a Saint … Creating a Place for Middle School Students”
$31,196

Catholic Leadership Institute
Wayne, Pa.
“Parish Missionary Disciples: Reawakening Believers on Fire for Jesus Christ”
$55,150

Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School
Philadelphia, Pa.
“’Best Fit’ Overnight College Tour Program”
$45,000

Faith in the Future Foundation
Philadelphia, Pa.
“Schools of Special Education Operating Budget”
$200,000

Gesu School
Philadelphia, Pa.
“Gesu School Youth Education for Tomorrow (YET) Pilot Expansions with St. Malachy School”
$31,530

IHM Family Literacy Center
Coatesville, Pa.
“Music Together Classes”
$5,600

Independence Mission Schools
King of Prussia, Pa.
“Math Curriculum Pilot”
$100,000; Grant Declined Because of Changed Circumstances

Independence Mission Schools
King of Prussia, Pa.
“Student Information System Assessment and Implementation”
$75,400

Mercy Career & Technical High School
Philadelphia, Pa.
“Health Occupations Program”
$76,590

Roman Catholic High School for Boys
Philadelphia, Pa.
“Lifetime Faith Formation Assistance Program” (Kairos)
$25,000

Saint Andrew School
Drexel Hill, Pa.
“Technology Development Plan — Upper Grades”
$69,902

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary
Wynnewood, Pa.
“Spreading the Good News Through Video”
$7,025

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary
Wynnewood, Pa.
“Relocation & Affiliation Project”
$100,000

Saint Francis de Sales School
Philadelphia, Pa.
“De Sales Technology Initiative”
$25,000

Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Coatesville, Pa.
“Boosting English Literacy in Hispanic Women and Their Children”
$22,000

Sophia Institute for Teachers
Manchester, N.H.
“Catechizing Elementary Teachers in the AOP”
$49,200

Sophia Institute for Teachers
Manchester, N.H.
“Catechizing High School Theology Teachers in Philadelphia”
$10,000

St. Joseph’s Preparatory School
Philadelphia, Pa.
“From Nominal to Practicing: Welcoming Catholics Back to the Lord’s Table”
$18,000

Vocation Office for the Diocesan Priesthood
Wynnewood, Pa.
“Going Deeper Vocation Camp”
$11,500

Vocation Office for the Diocesan Priesthood
Wynnewood, Pa.
“Philadelphia Catholic Scholars Program”
$16,000

Vocation Office for the Diocesan Priesthood
Wynnewood, Pa.
“Forged by Fire”
$16,350

West Catholic Preparatory High School
Philadelphia, Pa.
“Kairos”
$22,000

West Chester University Newman Center
West Chester, Pa.
“FOCUS Mission Team”
$60,000

Widener Newman Club
Chester, Pa.
“Widener University Newman Outreach”
$60,000