Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Philly Catholic High School Gets $300,000 Grant

The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) today announced it has awarded a $300,000 grant from its Great School Fund to Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School (Neumann-Goretti) in South Philadelphia. I

n 2015, PSP provided a planning grant to the Catholic high school to enable the development of a comprehensive transformation strategy, and the new turnaround grant will support early stage implementation of the resulting plan.

Neumann-Goretti currently serves about 500 students in South Philadelphia; approximately 45% of students are minority and 48% are low-income. In order to increase student achievement and close an existing achievement gap, the school is making several major changes, which include adopting Common Core aligned assessments and eliminating the traditional Catholic high school “tracking” system in favor of broader access to college preparatory and Honors/Advanced Placement programs.

Since 2011, PSP has invested over $53 million in Philadelphia schools to create better educational opportunities and help more than 20,000 students gain access to a high-quality education. These grants include approximately $34 million to public charter schools, $14 million to district schools and $5 million to private schools. More than a third of all investments, including this one, have been turnaround grants to support schools endeavoring to improve academic outcomes for all students, especially low-income and minority children.

“The Neumann-Goretti leadership team has a bold vision for transforming the school to ensure all students, regardless of race or income, are prepared for success in college or careers, and we are excited to help bring that vision to life,” said Jessica Pena, Director of the Great Schools Fund. “As the student body has become more diverse, the school is working harder to meet the needs of every student. This is an investment in the team’s plan to improve instruction and rigor to give every student the opportunity to excel academically.”

“Neumann Goretti's school family is excited to be part of this transformation, which focuses on a curriculum based on writing, problem solving, and creative thinking in all classes,” said Neumann-Goretti President, Bruce Robinson. “Rigorous instruction, enhanced faculty professional development, the use of data to drive instruction and results, and a culture that values strong academics and character development will all contribute to a learning environment in which all of our students are prepared to succeed in college and in life.”

PSP funding will support implementation of three core aspects of the school’s turnaround plan: increasing teacher effectiveness through coaching and collaboration, launching student interventions to ensure that the needs of struggling students are addressed early, and building a system for using data to inform instructional strategies. To help lead this work, Neumann-Goretti has hired a new Assistant Principal for Transformation, Genevieve Torres. She was previously principal of a Catholic elementary school and is a graduate of PhillyPLUS, a residency-based principal training program for district, charter and Catholic schools.

"As a proud Neumann graduate, it's great to see my alma mater headed in this new direction," said City Councilman Mark Squilla. "As a representative of the 1st district and a father of four, I appreciate PSP's support for quality educational opportunities for more Philadelphia families."

Representative William Keller (D – 184th), a fellow Neumann graduate said, “Every student deserves a great school, and Neumann has provided a quality education to students in South Philadelphia for decades. For the city of Philadelphia to thrive, we need great schools of all types – public and Catholic schools – so I am grateful for PSP’s support for quality school options.”

Neumann-Goretti is one of 17 Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia managed by the Faith in the Future (FIF) Foundation. The school was formed in a 2004 in merger of Saint John Neumann Catholic High School for Boys and Saint Maria Goretti Catholic High School for Girls. This merger ensured that the tradition of Catholic secondary education that had been in place in South Philadelphia for over 80 years would go on. FIF works in partnership with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and its Office of Catholic Education to make a first-rate, Catholic education affordable for all families that seek it. In 2013, PSP made a $600,000 planning grant to support the launch of FIF as it focused on improving academic outcomes and expanding access to lower-income families.

Mr. Chris Mominey, Chief Operating Office and Secretary for Catholic Education said, “Our intentional focus on these centers of urban Catholic education is a key component of our overall strategy for growth, innovation and change. I am confident that news of this type of grant will be the first step of many as we seek to strengthen all sectors of education in the City of Philadelphia. Catholic schools, K-12, stand at the ready to serve those students who seek our rigorous academic programs coupled with Gospel values, especially here in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.”

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