PR Practicum - Case Study


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I wrote this case study as part of my PR Practicum class. During this class we worked with two foundations that sought to support Catholic education.

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PR Practicum - Case Study

  1. 1. - Dainoski 1 -Tanya DainoskiPR PracticumProfessor DeRosaMarch 26, 2009Case Study: Futures in EducationBackground Founded in 1989, the Futures in Education Foundation operates on a grant fromthe Diocese of Brooklyn. The foundation raises money to support Catholic education inthe Diocese of Brooklyn. Ninety percent of funds raised go toward scholarships forCatholic school students with remaining funds paying for programs and special events. The foundation’s leadership consists of two boards: a corporate board whichdecides on costs and budgets, and an advisory board which advocates for the foundation,raises funds, and runs programs and activities.Demographics The Diocese of Brooklyn was established in 1853 and includes the 179 squaremiles that is Brooklyn and Queens and a 1.5 million Catholic population. The Diocesehas 117 elementary schools with over 37,000 students. Of these students, more that15,000 are living below the poverty line, 64% are minorities, and 22% are not Catholic. Scholarship receivers mostly come from immigrant families that have an annualincome of $26,000 (for a family of four). These students also receive free or reducedlunches, a federal indication of poverty.Objectives The mission stated on the foundation’s website is “to help ensure the continuanceof the Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens by providing tuition assistance andprogram support to the neediest of students and schools.”Problem More than 2,000 Catholic schools nationwide have closed since 1990. InBrooklyn and Queens 40% of Catholic schools have been shut down in the past sevenyears. Closings can be blamed on a number of issues including: the shortage of nuns andpriests applying for teaching positions, the demographic shift in the communities whereclosing schools are located, and a 15% cut in state aid to schools for mandated services.The closings are also directly related to low enrollment caused by rising tuition costs andthe current economic situation. To combat this growing trend the Diocese of Brooklyn has implemented a numberof steps to raise money and reconfigure schools, including working with the Futures inEducation Foundation.
  2. 2. - Dainoski 2 -Challenges Faced by the Foundation The foundation faces a number of challenges in trying to accomplish its goal. Theaverage tuition at a Catholic school is $3,100 and increases annually. The tuition isbecoming more of a burden for low-income parents, even with the assistance of ascholarship. The current economic crisis coupled with the resulting decrease in fundreturns and donations, means the foundation cannot have the same influence in students’lives as it was accustomed to.Current Strategies The foundation offers a number of donation programs to supplement itsscholarships. “Be an Angel to a Student” Program - The “Be an Angel to a Student” program connects financially needy catholic school students with “Angels” who supply a $1,500 donation towards the student’s education at a Catholic school in Queens or Brooklyn. Currently there are 225 “Angels” assisting 501 students. Many take on more than one student during the year, with one family assisting 30 students. There are 2,600 students in the Diocese of Brooklyn that are eligible for this program. School-Business Partnership - The School-Business Partnership connects schools with businesses to share their time, talent and finances. The businesses supply financial and business expertise to their designated school. Other Events – The foundation also offers Angels on the Fairway, an annual spring benefit and golf outing, and multiple dinners to supplement its scholarships. Direct donations are also accepted online and via phone and mail.Results The Futures in Education Foundation raises approximately $1 to 2 millionannually through its many events providing tuition assistance of $500 to $1,400 perstudent. The Futures Endowment Fund, a separate entity, was established in 2006 as partof the Diocese of Brooklyn’s plan to establish a $100 million endowment. The fund hasraised over $15 million since its creation.
  3. 3. - Dainoski 3 -SWOT Analysis Strengths • The Diocese of Brooklyn is the 5th largest diocese with 1.5 million Catholics. A large community could be a valuable fundraising base. Weaknesses • There has been an insufficient effort to create a database of past students and people who used to live in Queens. • The website needs better and more descriptions. Opportunities • Many students from the Diocese’s Catholic schools have graduated and can be included in fundraising efforts. • Many resources are available in a large city such as NYC. Threats • There has been some confusion as to the association between the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York’s Inner City Scholarship Fund. There is none. • The current state of the economy affects schools, tuitions, students, and scholarship funds in negative ways. • Rising tuition is always a factor that scholarship funds must compete against. • The changing demographics put more schools at risk and cause more students to require a scholarships.Suggestions In order to continue its success in the current economic crisis, the foundationshould focus more on gathering small donations from its publics. The Diocese ofBrooklyn has a large population, but the foundation is unable to use this resource becausethere is no database. The diocese needs to develop and continually update a database ofcurrent parishioners and people that graduated from their Catholic schools. These peoplewill later be used as a base group for fundraising and event planning. The foundation also needs to plan ahead and get people to create endowmentfunds now so that there will be increased returns in the future. The foundation shouldbegin a campaign about the benefits of investing in a down economy. The foundation should urge Catholic schools to partner with other non-secularand private schools to create a campaign supporting the creation of a tuition tax credit forall students. The creation of public service announcements and printed materials shouldtarget all parents of school-aged children to gain support for this legislation. The Futures in Education Foundation’s website needs to be revamped. A calendarof events should be put up on the Event page and detailed description of each eventshould be available for media people and anyone else frequenting the site. The lack of affiliation with the Archdiocese of New York’s Inner CityScholarship fund is not displayed prominently enough. This point should be stressed toall potential contributors.