In a partnership with Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Hispanic Education Imperative Fund and the Archdiocese of Washington, 40 Hispanic students received scholarships to attend six Catholic high schools and one Catholic elementary school in the Archdiocese of Washington for the 2020-2021 school year.

“Many Hispanic families are interested in the academic environment and graduation rates of Catholic schools, yet there is a significant disparity in their enrollment numbers,” Danielle Reyes, the executive director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation,  said in a statement. “Through this partnership, we are closing the gap in this region.”

The Archdiocese of Washington, which includes 91 schools and 26,000 students, is the largest non-public school system in the Washington, D.C. area. Wendi Williams, assistant superintendent for advancement and enrollment at the Archdiocese of Washington, said the partnership between the Crimsonbridge Foundation and the Archdiocese has been influential in welcoming Hispanic and Latino families to archdiocesan schools.

“The Archdiocese of Washington has prioritized our outreach and support efforts to Hispanic and Latino families to encourage their enrollment in our schools,” Williams said in an email. “The Crimsonbridge Foundation has been a partner with the archdiocese in this effort for many years. Their leadership and generosity has been a catalyst to our efforts which has resulted in an increase of Hispanic and Latino students in our schools.”

The Hispanic Education Imperative Fund, the financial arm of the initiative, provides partial scholarships for new Hispanic students to attend a Catholic school of their choice.

Since its founding in 2016, the fund has provided 86 students with partial scholarships, amounting to more than $550,000.

“The Hispanic Education Imperative Fund is one piece of a larger initiative that goes beyond scholarship assistance to increase Hispanic enrollment in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington,” Caitlin Mayo, the program officer for the Crimsonbridge Foundation, said in a statement. “We are taking a multi-pronged, whole community approach that includes linguistic and cultural capacity building and collaboration with principals, teachers, pastors, families and students.”

In addition, the program introduces students and their families to the Latino Student Fund, a nonprofit that assists families through the process of applying to Catholic schools.

Maria Fernanda Borja, the president and CEO of the Latino Student Fund, said her organization was founded to assist Hispanic students in the Washington, D.C. area to access education with scholarships to attend both independent and parochial schools in Washington.

“We support families with one-on-one attention to help find the right educational fit for their children,” she said in an interview. The Latino Student Fund also hosts workshops for families to speak with school representatives and receive the tools they need to apply to independent and parochial schools.

“It’s very important (to these families) that their kids attend a Catholic school,” Borja said.

Borja said she hopes that the partnership with the Archdiocese of Washington can continue to grow.

One family, who asked to remain anonymous, has two children who are both Hispanic Education Imperative Scholars attending Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland. They said the impact the scholarship has had on their family has been profound.

 “We are so incredibly thankful for this and all of (the program’s) support on our son’s high school journey,” the family said in an email. “He has come so far and grown so much as a person and a student. (The scholarship’s) support has played a huge role in making that a reality for him and for us. He made the Dean’s List for the first time in his life last year. As he starts his senior year, we can see his personal growth and drive to improve himself shining through in his daily activities. His future holds the promise of so much hope and potential, and I can’t wait to see it fulfilled. Thank you for your continued support.”