Fulcrum Foundation gala raises $1.5 million for Catholic school education

  • Written by Mary Louise Van Dyke
  • Published in Local
Father Michael G. Ryan, pictured with Michelle and Michael Maher, received the Archbishop’s Award from the Fulcrum Foundation for his support of Catholic schools in Seattle.  Photo: Courtesy Cathy Wise Father Michael G. Ryan, pictured with Michelle and Michael Maher, received the Archbishop’s Award from the Fulcrum Foundation for his support of Catholic schools in Seattle. Photo: Courtesy Cathy Wise

SEATTLE – Principal Monica Wingard and supporters of culturally diverse St. George School know the importance of the Fulcrum Foundation’s support for Catholic education.

“Fulcrum helped breathe life back into the school, which was considered for closing” at one point, Wingard said.

Fulcrum grants provide tuition assistance for two-thirds of St. George’s 257 students in preschool through eighth grade, the principal said. Other grants from the foundation have been used to build a preschool, replace 40-year-old school furnishings and support teachers in pursuit of leadership opportunities, Wingard said.

More than $1.5 million to help support the mission of the Fulcrum Foundation was raised Feb. 9 at its 16th annual Celebration of Light gala at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel. The event, which drew about 1,100 people, is a highlight of the year “because it’s such a testimony to the power of Catholic education,” said Anthony Holter, Fulcrum’s outgoing executive director (he leaves Feb. 16 for a job in Chicago).

The money raised during the gala will be distributed to the Western Washington’s 74 Catholic schools that educate 22,000 students in grades K–12, according to the foundation.

Joe and Mary Magnano
Joe and Mary Magnano received the Archbishop’s Award from the Fulcrum Foundation for financial support of students in need and Catholic school teachers who want to hone leadership skills. Photo: Courtesy Cathy Wise

The event included the presentation of the Archbishop’s Award, given to Catholic school benefactors. This year’s recipients are Joe and Mary Magnano of Bellevue and Father Michael G. Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral in Seattle.

Initially, the Magnanos turned down the award. “We’re very quiet givers and prefer not to be known,” explained Joe Magnano, who owns Napoleon Co., a Seattle-based food importer. Mary Magnano is a tutor at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bellevue.

The Magnanos, whose children attended Catholic schools, were motivated to help schools in need of assistance with supplies or tuition, Joe Magnano said. They particularly wanted to help single mothers who desired a Catholic education for their children. And Joe Magnano’s ties to the University of Notre Dame helped spur development of a Fulcrum leadership program that provides tuition assistance for teachers pursuing graduate studies at the Indiana university.

Catholic schools need the help and support of the entire community to have the resources to survive, Holter said.

Through its gala and private donations, Fulcrum was able to provide $4.3 million in support for the archdiocese’s schools during the 2016–17 fiscal year, according to its annual report.

Just over half those funds provide tuition assistance, which averages $1,200 for an elementary student and $1,350 for a high school student, according to Susan Ocoma, Fulcrum’s programs manager. Another 44 percent helps schools with needs such as projected budget deficits and technology, and 5 percent is used for program services and the leadership program, Holter said.

That help is crucial, said Wingard, the St. George principal: “Without Fulcrum, our Catholic schools would not be where they are today.”

Fulcrum Foundation makes a difference

The Fulcrum Foundation provided $4.3 million in assistance to archdiocesan K–12 schools during the 2016–17 fiscal year:

Tuition assistance — $2.2 million

School Partnership grants — $1.9 million

Leadership programs — $29,000

Program planning and management — $175,549