SEATTLE – After the February 8 winter storm caused the Fulcrum Foundation to cancel its annual Celebration of Light fundraising gala for Catholic schools, supporters responded by donating more than $235,000 online in less than 48 hours.
“The outpouring of our community has been phenomenal,” said Julie Coleman, Fulcrum’s interim executive director.
But there’s still a gap to fill — the Celebration of Light typically raises more than $800,000 during the event, with an additional $700,000 raised in sponsorships and donations in advance, Coleman said. Fulcrum is asking Catholics and Catholic school families around the archdiocese to help support Fulcrum’s mission of supporting Catholic education. (Donate here or see box).
“We want to make sure our three core programs — Tuition Assistance Grants, School Partnership Grants and the Leadership Academy — are not adversely impacted,” Coleman said. Through the Celebration of Light and annual donations, Fulcrum was able to provide over $4 million in assistance to the archdiocese’s schools and their students during the 2017-18 academic year, according to Fulcrum’s 2018 Community Report.
Last week, Fulcrum was in the process of awarding more than $2 million in tuition assistance grants to over 1,500 students. Most of that money was raised during last year’s Celebration of Light, according to Coleman.
The Celebration of Light is Fulcrum’s primary fundraising event, so this year’s cancellation is “a bit of a financial blow,” Coleman said. But it’s not insurmountable with the help of people around the archdiocese who believe in the importance of Catholic education, she said.
Coleman said some of those donating online have left comments that are “incredibly affirming and supportive” of Catholic education and Fulcrum’s mission to support and strengthen Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle.
This week, Coleman, Fulcrum Board Chairman Tony Audino and the Fulcrum staff are working closely with Kristin Dixon, superintendent of Catholic Schools, to get the word out to principals and then to Catholic school families about the need for donations.
The gala has never been canceled before, Coleman said. “As sick as we were to cancel, we felt it would be irresponsible to invite people out in the elements,” she said.
A highlight of the annual event is honoring the recipients of the Archbishop’s Award, given to “individuals who have demonstrated a strong and extraordinary commitment to Catholic education,” Coleman said.
Mike and Mary Lee, parishioners of St. James Cathedral Parish, were to be this year’s recipients; they will be honored again next year, according to Coleman.
“Mike and Mary are shining examples of advocating for Catholic education,” she said, noting that the Lees and their four daughters have a total of 90 years of Catholic education among them. The Lees have been with Fulcrum since its beginning and co-chaired Fulcrum’s first fundraising campaign, Coleman added.
How to donate
The Fulcrum Foundation is asking for help from the entire community to make up the funds it would have raised during its annual Celebration of Light, canceled this year because of the snow storm.