By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published October 19, 2017 | En Español
On Monday of this week, I was in Savannah for a meeting of the GRACE Scholars board of directors. GRACE (which stands for Georgia Residents Assisting Children’s Education) is the student scholarship organization (SSO) joint venture established by the Diocese of Savannah and the Archdiocese of Atlanta to take advantage of the state tax credit opportunity created by Georgia in 2008. The tax credit allows individuals and corporations to redirect a portion of their state income taxes to help children from financially disadvantaged families to attend a Catholic school.
Today there are more than 1,100 kids in our schools throughout Georgia who are GRACE scholars, and the numbers grow each year because of the generosity and astuteness of our people who choose to redirect a portion of their state tax bill to assist in this wonderful effort.
These 1,100-plus students represent every demographic category—and there are GRACE scholars in every one of our archdiocesan schools. Catholic education is an expensive investment, as everyone already knows, but it is also a proven vehicle for preparing young people for a successful future. Catholic school kids excel in every academic category and, most importantly, in developing a solid faith-based background. Our schools are firmly Catholic, but they also warmly welcome non-Catholic students who may also become GRACE scholars.
In addition to directing a portion of your state tax bill to fund the efforts of GRACE, you also may enjoy a federal tax benefit. As one of the early promoters of GRACE, Pat Mannelly, a retired Coca-Cola executive, once commented, “It’s a no-brainer!” Pat became a champion and ardent promoter of GRACE before the Lord called him to the Kingdom of God in 2015. Pat worked tirelessly to encourage his fellow parishioners at St. Ann in Marietta—and anyone else who would listen to his enthusiasm—to support this fine effort to aid kids from disadvantaged means to attend one of our schools. At his funeral Mass, which I was honored to celebrate, a busload of GRACE scholarship kids came to pray for him, in gratitude for his leadership in this effort and in thanksgiving for the education they were receiving through GRACE.
I strongly encourage you to learn more about GRACE and to continue your support of this wonderful opportunity to assist in the Catholic education of well-deserving youngsters throughout Georgia. The Diocese of Savannah and the Archdiocese of Atlanta share proportionally in the financial benefits of GRACE. We decided to launch GRACE together since it represents a unified response to a statewide program.
I am grateful to our parishes and schools that have been so supportive of this effort. If you would like to know more about GRACE and how to become a collaborator in our program, please refer to the website: www.gracescholars.org. You will find all of your questions answered there, as well as how to sign up for this opportunity.
On behalf of the hundreds of kids who have already benefitted from and those who are currently receiving a fine Catholic education through GRACE—and in hopeful anticipation of your interest in partnering with us—I say thank you!