Question: Why was the CCLC formed?
Answer: The CCLC was formed because Catholic elementary schools within the Diocese of Buffalo are struggling financially and need to find a new financial model of support.
Question: Is this support only for Catholic children?
Answer: No. Approximately 30% of the students attending Catholic elementary schools are not Catholic.
Question: Why does the CCLC support Catholic and non-Catholic students?
Answer: The CCLC believes a faith-based education helps to develop all children who have the potential to become loving, compassionate, caring, and contributing members of society. For Catholics, we hope that an understanding of faith will help future generations enrich their spiritual lives and help support the good works of their church. For non-Catholics, we hope that exposure to faith will bring God’s light into their lives to strengthen and sustain them in the years ahead regardless of what church they may or may not belong to.
Question: Why are Catholic elementary schools struggling financially?
Answer: These schools receive their funding from student tuition, fundraising, and the financial gifts of donors. The schools cannot increase tuition and keep the cost of schooling affordable for all families. This means the schools have had to rely on fundraisers and donors to help keep tuition affordable. This type of funding support is inconsistent and cannot keep pace with costs. Further, there is donor fatigue where every year (all year long) schools, by necessity, must continue asking for financial support.
Question: What impact, if any, has the clergy abuse crisis had on Catholic elementary school finances?
Answer: This crisis has created a financial hardship for the schools. Prior to the crisis, the schools received annual funding from the diocese. This funding was raised through individual parish financial assessments as well as tuition assessments paid by parishes without schools to those that have schools. In the spring of 2020 the diocese informed the schools they would no longer provide any financial support to its schools.
Question: Why did the diocese stop providing financial support to its elementary schools?
Answer: As a direct result of the clergy abuse crisis, many parishioners reduced or stopped their contributions to the parishes. In addition, the lawsuits and bankruptcy of the diocese caused a severe limitation on available resources to provide support to the schools.
Question: What impact has the loss of diocesan financial support had on the schools presently?
Answer: For the 2020-2021 school year all schools were able to open their doors to students. This was accomplished through the generosity of donors, the expenditure of small reserves, and the elimination of staff. However, it is projected many Catholic elementary schools (especially those located in the urban center of Buffalo and in rural counties of the diocese) may close in 2021-2022.
Question: How does the CCLC propose to financially support the schools?
Answer: First, the CCLC will not be able to provide major financial help to the schools in the 2021-2022 school year. There simply is not enough time to create the funding the schools will need. It will be up to the Diocese of Buffalo to decide if Catholic education remains a part of the church’s mission here in Western New York. Accordingly, the diocese must prioritize the reduced resources it has available to support its schools as much as possible.
The CCLC believes the past financial model of supporting Catholic education is not sustainable. Though schools will always rely on the generosity of donors and fundraisers, they need to have a more dependable source of funding. The CCLC proposes to develop a model of finance that creates an “income” stream for the schools. Meaning that the CCLC will create opportunities where financial support will be derived from actual projects and investments. This is not really a new financial model for Catholics. Religious orders for centuries have engaged in business enterprises to support themselves. Catholic universities, hospitals, charities, healthcare systems, religious bookshops, wineries, bakeries, and retreat centers to name a few are all part of that history. This approach to funding Catholic elementary schools though is new.
Question: If the diocese reaffirms financial support for Catholic schools is a part of the church’s mission and once again provides funding to the schools will the CCLC be necessary?
Answer: Yes, the CCLC will continue to be needed. First, even with the past financial support of the diocese, the schools were struggling. The withholding of support from the diocese has put the schools into a crisis. Secondly, the long-term model of financing the schools must be changed. As noted above, fundraisers and the generosity of donors is not enough to keep tuition affordable. Also, the schools have benefited over the years from teachers and staff dedicated to Catholic education. Unfortunately, the current model of funding has kept wages and benefits to these faithful professionals extremely low. Many young people graduating from college with high student debt cannot afford to become our future teachers. As low as wages are, many current teachers and staff in some schools have not seen a salary increase in several years. Turnover of teachers and administrators has been high and undermines the confidence of parents in the stability of their children’s schools. The CCLC is dedicated to addressing this financial challenge.
Question: What types of enterprises does the CCLC hope to create to earn income for the schools?
Answer: The CCLC envisions a mixed business portfolio that could include: real estate development, ownership of small and large businesses, research development, entrepreneurial collaboration, financial investment, the development of new products and services, the development of intellectual property, property management, and partnerships with other current businesses.
Question: Currently, has the CCCL developed any businesses or initiatives?
Answer: No. The CCLC has just formed and is looking for new Board members that can bring the necessary expertise to help develop its projects.
Question: Who are the current Board members?
Answer: They are longtime champions of Catholic education in Western New York; individuals who believe the opportunity to have a faith-based education should be available to all families who wish to have it for their children. Most importantly they do not want this opportunity to only be available to those who can afford it.
Question: Will the CCLC conduct fundraisers and accept donations?
Answer: The CCLC will not conduct fundraisers. The organization will accept and encourage donations that can be used to further the development of income opportunities for the schools.
Question: Where does the money earned by the CCLC go?
Answer: Funds earned will be distributed to the Catholic elementary schools within the Diocese of Buffalo for their operational expenses. However, donations designated for a specific school by a donor is given to that particular school. No funds go to the Diocese of Buffalo.
Question: What Catholic elementary schools are eligible for financial support from the CCLC?
Answer: All of the current 34 Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Buffalo are eligible for financial support.
Question: How will the distribution of funds be allocated to the schools?
Answer: The CCLC will develop an application process for schools to apply for funding. Priority will be given to mission schools, i.e. single schools within counties and schools serving high needs and minority students.
Question: Will funds be given to families for tuition assistance?
Answer: No. The CCLC does not want to interfere with other organizations like the BISON FUND that already help to provide this type of assistance. The CCLC is focused on school operational expenses to pay teachers and staff, and expenses including instructional materials, building utilities, and capital improvements.
Question: Has anyone already donated to the CCLC?
Answer: Yes. Two foundations have already provided seed money to the CCLC and several individuals are doing estate planning to leave funds to the CCLC. The CCLC is looking for additional support of these types and is even open to family-owned businesses that are looking to retire and willing to donate their business for the CCLC to continue their operations.
Question: Is the CCLC a registered charity with the State of New York?
Answer: Yes, the CCLC is a 501C3 charitable tax-exempt organization registered with state and federal governments.
Question: Where can I learn more and where can I contact the CCLC?