SEATTLE , Dec. 17, 2005 (AP) - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving a $7.5 million Christmas present to area Catholic schools, in recognition of the role they play in educating lower-income students.
The grant announced Thursday to the Fulcrum Foundation, a Seattle nonprofit that supports Western Washington's 68 Catholic schools, will be used to increase the amount and number of scholarships and launch a fundraising campaign to establish two foundations totaling $35 million.
The Fulcrum Foundation helps about 700 families send their kids to Catholic schools each year, with grants of about $550 per child on tuition that averages $3,700 a year. The five-year endowment campaign hopes to increase grants to $1,000 per child.
"This is really going to help us take a major stride toward doing that," said Joe Womac, executive director of the foundation. "It really is a recognition of the value of our schools."
About 22,500 students attend Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle, which includes Western Washington communities from the Canadian to Oregon borders. Besides tuition grants, Fulcrum gives general assistance grants to schools in low-income areas and pays for teacher training as well as books and educational materials.