The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has raised $230,000 thus far for its most important annual fundraiser - and organizers say that's encouraging progress toward its eventual goal of $350,000.
The 14th annual "Making a Difference Dinner - A Celebration of Catholic Schools," will be held Jan. 30 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
The event has grown bigger every year (it raised $255,000 in 2011, $262,000 in 2012 and $335,000 in 2013) and that's no accident. The proceeds go to fund scholarships for K-8 students in Diocesan schools, where the ability to afford a Catholic education has become a major focus in recent years.
Catholic school tuition has increased by 7 percent recently, while family income has decreased by 7.7 percent, according to foundation data.
"One of the objectives of the Diocese is to make certain Catholic education remains affordable and an option for all families, not just the affluent," said Rick Suchan, executive director of the Diocese foundation. "We're committed to doing what we can to keep schools thriving with strong enrollments."
The Diocese is currently analyzing the educational model for its 45 elementary schools, which educate roughly 11,000 students in eight counties. It is expected to announce a new plan this month for approval in the 2014-15 school year.
And Sister Carol Cimino, appointed as superintendent of Diocese schools in January 2013, has said fundraising needs to improve in the whole system and individual schools.
Nearly 1,200 people are expected for the "Making a Difference" event, with the Diocese foundation hoping to sell around 1,000 tickets. Funds will also come from individual tickets, corporate tables and sponsorships - and subsequent programs like the Snow Ball Dances to be held Jan. 31.
The proceeds will support a scholarship program run in conjunction with the Bison Children's Scholarship Program. That partnership is supporting nearly 930 Catholic and non-Catholic students in Diocese schools this year, with an average grant of $1,012. Hundreds of families are on the waiting list.
The event will begin with a reception at 5:45 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:45 p.m. and a closing prayer at 8:45 p.m. Catholic Health is the presenting sponsor, The William E. & Ann L. Swan Foundation is the lead sponsor and Maid of the Mist Corp. is the event sponsor.
More information on the events can be found at the Diocese foundation's main website, www.frcdb.org, or www.snowballdance.com.