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Bishop's Catholic Schools Initiative

Bishop David Walkowiak, who attended Catholic schools and ardently supports them, wants more young people to have the same opportunity he had. To that end, the three-year Bishop’s Catholic Schools Initiative has three parts for growing enrollment: improving affordability through increased scholarships, growing professional capacity, and developing a plan for future vitality. The three years of the Bishop's Catholic Schools Initiative are 2015-16 through 2017-18.
Part One: Improve affordability through increased scholarships
In November 2014, Bishop Walkowiak more than quadrupled the amount of available diocesan scholarship funding for Catholic schools for the three years of the Bishop’s Catholic Schools Initiative. The increased scholarship funding supports current Catholic school families as well as new families. More than $1.5 million in scholarships have been awarded in the first two years of the initiative. Learn more about scholarships at this link.
Part Two: Grow professional capacity
Additionally, the Bishop’s Catholic Schools Initiative added new professional roles to the Office of Catholic Schools: an admissions enrollment field consultant, a marketing communications coordinator, and an elementary schools athletic director. The admissions enrollment field consultant is Luzia Tartari, and she implements enrollment management and recruitment strategies and leads our team of admissions advocates. Their role is to identify and invite families to consider Catholic education at all 30 schools in the diocese; they focus on reaching out to our growing population of Hispanic families and other historically underserved parishes without schools. The marketing communications coordinator is Greg Ghering, who implements the preschool-12 marketing plan and manages our webpage and social media. The elementary schools’ athletic director is Conrad Cuncannan, who organizes a growing number of elementary athletic programs.
Part Three: Develop a plan for future vitality
Finally, we have developed a plan for future vitality, called "Catholic Schools: Bridging Faith and Future." The plan charts a course for growth beyond just sustaining the initial efforts of the Bishop’s Catholic Schools Initiative. The "Catholic Schools: Bridging Faith and Future" planning process began in the winter and spring of 2016 as we shared data and took public input through one community forums. Our strategic planning steering committee spent summer 2016 turning that data and input into a draft plan which was then shared in community forums in fall 2016. The final plan was completed and shared with decision makers in May 2017, and planning for implementation immediately began. Learn more about "Catholic Schools: Bridging Faith and Future" at
Poised for future growth
Bishop Walkowiak’s plan to grow enrollment at Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids is bearing fruit. Preschool-12 enrollment in the 2015-16 academic year was 6,454 – 1.6% more than in the previous school year. The 2016-17 school year had an enrollment of 6,550, 1.5% year-over-year growth. Enrollment for 2017-18 was 6,605, 0.8% year-over-year growth. In the 2018-19 school year, we’re glad to serve our largest preschool class in 18 years and our largest kindergarten in six years. These strong numbers at the entry levels will continue to benefit the growth and vitality of our Catholic schools.
The Bishop's Catholic Schools Initiative has received nationwide recognition, being featured in the summer 2016 issue of Momentum by the National Catholic Educational Association.