Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of St. Mary's School
GRACE Scholars student Noah Avery, center, helps his fellow students of St. Mary's School, Victoria Smith, standing, and Isaiah Perez to organize boxes of food for distribution to those in need. Avery graduated from the eighth grade in May and excelled during his time at the Rome school.


GRACE Scholars makes Catholic education possible for Georgia youth 

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published June 9, 2023  | En Español

LILBURN—A lifelong Catholic, Elizabeth Reid now finds that her young daughters are teaching her new things about the faith.  

The GRACE Scholars program makes it possible for Reid’s daughters to attend St. John Neumann Regional School in Lilburn, an archdiocesan school. 

Reid calls the Catholic school experience “incredibly valuable” for her daughters Scarlet and Penelope, who will be entering fourth and third grade in the fall.  

“I look at it as a domino effect,” she said.  

Reid believes that her own Catholic education helped her when it was time to leave home. “I was able to stay strong in the faith,” she said. 

In 2008, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, former Archbishop of Atlanta, and Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah founded GRACE Scholars to take advantage of the student scholarship organization (SSO) tax credit legislation. 

A taxpayer donating to GRACE Scholars receives a 100% credit on their Georgia income taxes for their contribution. More than 30 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah accept GRACE scholarships. All students receiving GRACE awards receive money for their entire Catholic school matriculation if they show financial need. 

In 2022, one in four GRACE Scholar recipients came from families with annual incomes (AGI) of $23,926 or less.  

Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv. of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Bishop Stephen Parkes of the Diocese of Savannah currently serve as chair and vice chair of the GRACE Board of Directors and are supporters of the GRACE mission. 

GRACE Scholars is a Georgia nonprofit corporation and tax-exempt charity (501-c-3 organization) and has met the requirements for designation as an SSO in Georgia. 

Reid’s son will also be enrolled in Catholic school when he is older and without this scholarship program, “I wouldn’t be able to afford it,” she said.  

She encourages other parents to explore GRACE Scholars because of the great outcome. Reid said the process for applying is very easy with a quick response. 

Scarlet has learned to love science, religion and art at school, says her mom. Penelope “likes to read and loves math.” 

“They keep it exciting,” said Reid about the teachers and staff of St. John Neumann. 

Reid works outside the home and her daughters are also involved in extracurricular activities at school. She commended counselor Laura Ann Wingate for starting a cheer club at the school, an example of how staff responds to the interests of the children. 

In the scholarship program’s annual report, JoAnn McPherson, principal of St. Mary’s Academy in Fayetteville, described how GRACE Scholars helps the school meet its mission. 

“As the new and only PK-12 archdiocesan school in metro Atlanta, St. Mary’s Academy is especially grateful for the GRACE Scholarship Program,” said McPherson. “When SMA opened its doors in August 2022, we welcomed 33 GRACE Scholars in grades PK-8.” 

Noah Avery, who recently celebrated his eighth-grade graduation at St. Mary’s School in Rome, said he most enjoyed the feeling of community at the school.  

“Every morning I got out of the car excited to see my friends. I was equally excited about what I’d learn and to interact with my teachers. I don’t think every middle school kid could say the same,” he wrote in an email. 

He said he will continue to strive for excellence in high school. 

“My time at St. Mary’s really taught me how to work hard and achieve great things. I plan to focus on my academics. I really enjoyed getting involved with a wide range of activities during middle school. I plan to become equally involved with my high school community,” shared Noah. 

His mom Katherine Avery said GRACE has gifted their family greatly.  

“Without St. Mary’s, I’m not sure that I’d have a child that is as successful as Noah has been throughout his school career. The family feeling of the school combined with a real commitment to rigorous academics is what makes it a wonderful school. GRACE made it possible for us to attend this magical place,” she said.  

Avery emphasized that Catholic education is one of the greatest gifts the church provides its children.   

“My son has high functioning autism. The teachings of the church that say God makes us all different and special was exactly what my son needed to hear. He was filled with the profound sense that God’s plan for his life was for good even if at times it could be hard.” 

Registration for the 2024 Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit opens July 1. To learn more, visit GRACE Scholars at