In the 1970’s and early 1980’s there was good news as well as significant challenges for Catholic High Schools in the province of Ontario. The good news was that there was unprecedented growth in the number of students choosing to attend Catholic High Schools. The challenges were financial.
Provincially, the government denied the Catholic community’s requests for funding. At the local level, the increase in students meant additional classroom space was needed as well as additional staff. During this time, there was a definite decrease in available teaching staff from the Congregation of the Resurrection and the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The success of St. Jerome’s and St. Mary’s had been to a large degree based on the presence of the men and women who taught and administered for very low salaries.
As a result, parents were required to pay higher tuition and parishes were assessed at higher levels. In spite of these measures the financial survival of the two schools was threatened.
In November of 1977, the Catholic High School Board initiated “The Make It Happen Campaign” with the goal of raising 1 million dollars for a capital campaign to support St. Jerome’s and St. Mary’s. In actuality, 2 million dollars was raised!
In order to fundraise effectively, the Catholic High School Board sought the expertise of members of the community. The foundation established Bylaws and guidelines to direct activities and membership.
The efforts of the Foundation members were rewarded as their financial goal was exceeded. The Board had over $100,000.00 available annually through the interest accrued on the capital.
In 1984, the provincial government announced funding for Catholic High Schools in Ontario. This meant that the funds raised through the “Make It Happen Campaign” needed to be reconsidered.
With the advent of full funding for Catholic High Schools, the Foundation trustees debated its purpose. Future fundraising to increase the capital was put on hold.
The trustees of the Foundation agreed that the capital should remain untouched. There was a concern that the provincial government would count the 1million dollar capital as an asset of the Separate School Board and that the Church would disperse the funds throughout the province. In 1985, Bishop Tonnos stated that the capital would remain in Waterloo Region to fund local programs and projects.
In 1987, the Catholic Community Foundation of Waterloo Region was established with new By-laws, which included a specific and detailed investment policy. The Bishop and the Kitchener – Waterloo Catholic High School Board approved the recommendations, which formed the basis for the Foundation as it is known today.
The Foundation’s mandate is to assist our community by providing financial support within Waterloo Region for worthwhile programs and projects, primarily those of a Catholic educational nature.
As we evaluate the period between inception of the Catholic Community Foundation and its positive presence in the Community today, it is acknowledged that the generosity of the volunteer leadership, combined with the financial support of the Catholic community provided a viable model to continue the mandate of the Foundation.
The vision of the Foundation’s originators has created a perpetual process for providing financial support to worthwhile programs and projects throughout Waterloo Region, including annual scholarship awards in the regions 5 Catholic Secondary schools. Through the years the Foundation has contributed more than 2 million dollars to over 50 community agencies and/or programs, as well as contributing to the unfunded programs in various parishes and schools.
The Foundation funds are invested in securities of various types in a fund administered by the Investment Committee of the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation.
Continued support from the Catholic community through donations and bequests, along with the annual proceeds from the Catholic Charities Lottery will ensure that the Foundation continues to grow while providing the necessary support required by agencies, schools and parishes well into the future.