Reporter - Danielle Lerner

Oct 24, 2011 2:11 PM

South side schools receive $100,000 scholarship grant

TUCSON-- The dream of a private, Catholic education is now a reality for nearly 100 kids on the south side, thanks to a $100,000 scholarship donation from New York Life Insurance. It is part of the state's corporate tax credit, where corporations can receive dollar-for-dollar credit when they contribute to qualified school tuition organizations.

Santa Cruz school is one of three Notre Dame ACE Academies to benefit from the scholarship. They are part of a program with the University of Notre Dame that helps support Catholic K-12 schools across the country. Administrators at Santa Cruz say the goal is to put more at-risk kids on the path to college.

At Santa Cruz, the school's mission is easy to see. It's hanging in entryways, classrooms, painted on walls. However it cannot maintain that mission without help.

"If we did not have tuition assistance funding we would not be affordable for many of our families, most of our families," said Sister Leonette Korchan, principal of Santa Cruz.

Eighth grader Daniela Rodriguez and seventh grader Isaiah Gutierrez both depend on tuition assistance.

"Without them we would not be where we are today," said Rodriguez. "I would like to be a teacher when I grow up."

"I want to be very successful," said Gutierrez. "I want to be a lwayer, either a prosecutor or a defense attorney."

In fact 90 percent of students at Santa Cruz rely on some type of help from the Catholic Tuition Support Organization, or CTSO, which uses corporate and individual donations to provide scholarships at 28 Catholic schools throughout Tucson. It costs about $4,000 per year to attend the Notre Dame ACE Academies, so the need for donations is always there.

"The scholarship money is key to us continuing to educate the children who want to be here, whose families want them to receive a Catholic education," said Korchan.

The two other schools benefitting from that scholarship money are St. John the Evangelist and St. Ambrose.

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