The Connelly Foundation has awarded its 2021 Neumann Scholars, 40 academically talented eighth-grade students from 30 Catholic schools in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, with four-year scholarships to attend any archdiocesan high school of their choosing.

This year 459 students competed for the scholarships, representing 112 parochial and regional elementary schools in five counties. Among the 40 scholarship recipients are five students from Bucks County, eight from Chester County, nine from Delaware County, 10 from Montgomery County and eight from Philadelphia.

The highest scoring student was Brendan Annulis at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School in Doylestown.

“The Connelly Foundation is proud to shine a light on the accomplishments and brilliance of the scholars across the Philadelphia Archdiocese, especially during this challenging time to be a student,” said Josephine C. Mandeville, chair of the Connelly Foundation Board. “Through the Neumann Scholars Program, we are able to reward their academic excellence and open the door to even greater achievement through a high-quality education at an archdiocesan high school.” 

The scholarships are named for St. John Neumann, the fourth bishop of Philadelphia, who is credited with founding over 200 schools in the archdiocese. His successor, Archbishop Nelson Pérez, offered his congratulations to this year’s awardees.

“I was thrilled to learn that 40 eighth grade students from across the five-county archdiocese were named 2021 Neumann Scholars,” he said. “I am proud of each of these students for being a shining example of the very best that Catholic education has to offer. This outstanding achievement is a testament to their hard work as well as the dedication of their parents, pastors, teachers and administrators. All have played an important role in guiding them to success.”

The archbishop said he was “eternally grateful to the Connelly Foundation for providing each of these young people with the gift of Catholic education and for its generous support of the Church in Philadelphia.”
Launched in 1995, the Neumann Scholars Program identifies scholastically gifted eighth-grade students through an independently administered competitive examination.

The Neumann Scholarship exam was administered virtually by computer on Oct. 23 and 24 at local schools. A small number of children also took the test from their home due to COVID-19. This was the first time the test was administered by computer, providing access to all eligible students.

The criteria to sit for this year’s exam was responsive to COVID-19 challenges as well, using test scores from the sixth grade rather than seventh, and making the essay requirement optional.

Andrew M. McLaughlin, archdiocesan secretary of elementary education, expressed his gratitude to the Connelly Foundation “for its tireless support of Catholic education particularly through the Neumann Scholars and Josephine C. Connelly Scholarship,” he said. “Especially during what has been an incredibly challenging year for students, school families and educators, being able to celebrate academic achievements such as these offer real inspiration and motivation to all of us in Catholic education to continue our important work.”

The cumulative scholarship total for the Neumann Scholars Class of 2025 is $1.3 million or $33,000 per student. Accomplishments since the program’s inception affirm the high academic caliber of roughly 947 graduates to date.

The program’s graduates have enjoyed 100% college acceptance with over $185 million offered in college scholarships, 118 National Merit Finalists, four National Merit Semi-Finalists, 233 National Merit Commended Students, five National Merit Achievement Students, an average SAT score of 1418 and a high score of 1600 (combined math and critical reading).

“In this time of need for many, the Connelly Foundation is blessed to be able to continue supporting the community through established programs like the Neumann Scholars Program and to devote new additional funding as a direct response to COVID-19’s impact,” said Mandeville.

Since March, the Connelly Foundation has increased overall spending for the year by nearly $3 million, directing nearly 40% of its anticipated $15.4 million in grantmaking in 2020 toward COVID-related relief and recovery.

More than $2.3 million in COVID-related funding has been awarded to support Catholic education and social services.

Funding has been given through various means including scholarships, operational support, new technology and support for Catholic Social Services programs that serve adults with intellectual disabilities, delinquent and dependent teens, and individuals facing food insecurity that are experiencing rising costs, revenue loss and staffing shortages as a result of COVID-19.

The Connelly Foundation was founded in 1955 by John and Josephine Connelly. John Connelly, president of Connelly Containers and later Crown Cork and Seal in Philadelphia, and his wife Josephine were strongly motivated by their Catholic faith and their love for the Philadelphia region.

They dedicated their fortune to helping others, and over the past 63 years the Connelly Foundation has donated over $400 million to nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia area focusing on education, human services, and the arts.

The foundation has always emphasized Catholic education, with thousands of Philadelphia-area students having attended Catholic high schools through the foundation’s Neumann Scholars and Josephine C. Connelly scholarship programs.