BLOCS Mobilizes to Raise More Than $1.3 Million in Tuition Assistance for Families Impacted by
BLOCS Chief Executive Officer Dave Rowan announced on a recent Board of Directors quarterly conference call that the nonprofit has successfully awarded over $1.3M in tuition assistance to more than 2,200 students in the Philadelphia five county region, whose families have suffered financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In collaboration with Archdiocese partners, BLOCS has traditionally managed an Emergency Scholarship Fund (ESF) designed to provide students and their families need-based scholarships to combat setbacks sustained as a result of job loss, chronic illness or fatality. In FY19, the number of ESF applications submitted by families totaled 143. In the wake of the pandemic’s spread, BLOCS received nearly five times as many applications in one week as compared to the amount of families requesting aid in the entirety of the previous year.

The Board of Directors recognized that a rapid response was urgent and necessary, and immediate plans were made to re-assess the ESF scholarship awarding process and remove any bureaucratic red tape which would prohibit BLOCS from quickly getting funds into the hands of families who needed them.
“For the past 50 years, BLOCS has consistently provided our communities with resources to support Catholic education. It’s truly a testament to our Board’s leadership, coupled with the extraordinary generosity of our donors that, together, our team was able to mobilize and quickly deliver to our neighbors in need,” states Matt Topley, BLOCS Board Chairman.
BLOCS launched a digital and social fundraising campaign enlisting the help of their generous donor base (both individuals and corporations), to support the COVID-19 Emergency Aid Fund. Donor response was swift, and monies were dispersed to more than 2,200 students attending Philadelphia Archdiocese schools.

These schools, who have collaborated with BLOCS for years to identify ways to support their students, understand the significance of these efforts.
"The emergency micro-grants that BLOCS supplied, simply put, were ‘life savers’! We did not know where we were going to turn to help our students when their parents’ jobs seemed to disappear overnight. In this nightmare, BLOCS supplied the relief we needed, and we were so grateful.”

-- Lizanne Magarity Pando, President
St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls
The impact was felt immediately. Due to school closings and the onset of distance and online learning, students were asked to transition to a new model for attending classes and completing assignments. Andrew McLaughlin, Secretary for Elementary Education at the Office of Catholic Education in Philadelphia, reports that both synchronous and asynchronous instruction models were implemented to continue at-home education, and the Archdiocese estimates over 95% participation rate in online learning.
BLOCS will continue its fundraising efforts through the end of the year to stem the tide of families who continue to be negatively impacted by the pandemic, as well as forecasting for the potential of a second wave of the virus.