Archdiocese Welcomes Introduction of Congressional Legislation to Continue Opportunity Scholarship Program

May 21, 2009

The Archdiocese of Washington welcomes legislation introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Preserving D.C. Student Scholarships Act of 2009. This bill would continue the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program and permit low-income students in the District of Columbia to continue to receive a quality education at the school of their choice. Without swift action by Congress, this federally-funded program will end in 2010, putting the children’s education at risk.

“This program is a lifesaver for children in the city. Not only has a Congressionally-mandated study found the Opportunity Scholarship Program to be successful in increasing student achievement, but we have seen its positive impact first-hand with students transformed into enthusiastic young scholars,” said Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Ph.D., superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Washington. “As the 2009-2010 school year ends, these students are a visible testament to the true success and value of a program that works.”

Opportunity Scholarship students who graduated from Archbishop Carroll High School this year, for example, have been accepted at 30 colleges and universities, including St. John’s University, Syracuse University, Norfolk State and others. This follows the success of the two prior years, when 100 percent of the scholarship students graduated from this competitive high school and 20 of 21 were accepted into college.

Of the more than 1,700 students who received Opportunity Scholarships this year, 879 attended Catholic schools in the District. The federally-funded scholarships provide low-income families with up to $7,500 towards tuition and some fees at participating non-public schools. The program was established five years ago as part of the three-sector initiative to strengthen education across the city that also has brought millions of new federal funds to the District’s public and charter schools.

The Archdiocese of Washington supports full and permanent funding of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program as part of comprehensive support for education in the District of Columbia. Visit www.DCOpportunityScholarship.org for more information.

Contact:
Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
301-853-4515
[email protected]