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Auburn Gresham School Launches Million Dollar Tuition Campaign

citizen | 1/31/2012, 5:03 p.m.
Helen Dumas, Minster of Education/Principal of St. Sabina Academy located in Chicagos Auburn Gresham neighborhood,...
Helen Dumas, principal of St. Sabina Academy says she believes the school will raise one million dollars by Dec. 31, 2012. The parish and schools theme for 2012 is Mission Possible 2012: When Challenges Become Opportunities! (Photo Courtesy of St. Sabina Academy)

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The Archdiocese of Chicago reported in January that Catholic elementary school enrollment has seen a surge for the second consecutive year. Shown here, St. Sabina Academy students perform at the school board's annual scholarship gala. (Photo Courtesy of St. Sabina Academy)

Helen Dumas, Minster of Education/Principal of St. Sabina Academy located in Chicagos Auburn Gresham neighborhood, has created a program geared to help families with paying tuition there. Dumas recently told the Chicago Citizen that she has noticed families struggling over the past six years with the loss of jobs and foreclosures of homes.

Some of our families have shed tears having to make the decision to provide their children with food and shelter or a quality Catholic education in the safe, nurturing and faith-based environment we provide, Dumas said. Many had no choice but to send their children to some of the failing and violence-ridden schools in our community.

Dumas added that the Catholic elementary school has been able to offer families a considerable amount of financial assistance but the need continues to grow.

The idea came to her during a moment of solace.

One evening, the Holy Spirit gave me the vision to raise one million dollars as part of my legacy to our school. When I asked God, How do you raise a million dollars? The response was, $1.00 at a time. Thus our Million Dollar Project!

Dumas said she believes the school will raise one million dollars by Dec. 31, 2012. The parish and schools theme for 2012 is Mission Possible 2012: When Challenges Become Opportunities!

The primary purposes of the campaign are to keep the cost of tuition affordable for our students and families as well as to establish an endowment or pool of monies for tuition assistance in order to offer a sliding tuition scale to assist low income families, she said. We desire that all children and families who want to attend St. Sabina are not denied that opportunity due to lack of the financial resources.

The school is working diligently to get the word out to the community. Dumas is presenting the project to the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation. Members of the school and church community are also busy promoting.

We began by sharing the vision for the project with parishioners, school families and staff. School parents are becoming parent ambassadors to spread the word about the project as well as recruit students for the 2012-2013 school year, Dumas told the Chicago Citizen.

St. Sabinas current enrollment is 296. About half of the students are from the surrounding Auburn-Gresham and Englewood communities. Dumas said that number was higher prior to the economic recession. The remaining 50 percent of students travel from other neighborhoods including the south suburbs. Some students commute in from as far away as Indiana.

The school has already raised nearly $1,000 and students have also donated.

It has been heartwarming to see our students now taking the initiative to bring in their coins to take ownership for their own destinies, she said.

The Archdiocese of Chicago reported in January that Catholic elementary school enrollment has seen a surge for the second consecutive year.

According to the results from a recent survey, the increase reflects an influx of 650 students. The results represent the first positive movement in Chicagos Catholic school enrollment since 1965.

Moreover, the second consecutive year, over half of the 216 elementary schools in the Archdiocese have a stable or growing student population. This growth is happening at the preschool, kindergarten and first grade levels, which are up a combined eight percent from two years ago for an improvement of 1,150 students.

For more information, interested parties or donors may call St. Sabina Academy at 773-483-5000 and speak with Ms. Dumas or Mrs. Woodland. St. Sabina Academy is located at 7801 S. Throop St. in Chicago.

By Thelma SardinTwitter: @thelmasardin