The contract found its way to Tricia DeWitt’s hands shortly before Christmas. It was an astonishing contract – a legal formality to seal DeWitt’s acceptance of a $1 million check on behalf of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School in Atlanta.
“I was speechless, needless to say. Since I found out it was probably going to be a good possibility before school let out, it was the greatest Christmas present anyone could give,” she said. “I was pretty much in a state of shock.”
DeWitt said she knows the donor’s identity – a former student – but he requested anonymity. She said he visited a 50 anniversary celebration last spring and expressed interest in the school.
“He could have put it in many other… wonderful organizations that are competing for that money,” DeWitt said. “It’s a true tribute to Catholic education.”
The windfall won’t be dedicated to a flashy wing or other sort of clichéd donor monument. DeWitt said it will be given to the school’s endowment, which DeWitt said will keep the school’s $6,000 yearly tuition from rising. The school is in the middle of a three-year, $3 million dollar fundraising campaign to enlarge the endowment, which was started in 1989, according to a school statement.
Immaculate Heart is a parish school that serves 497 students in kindergarten through eighth grade from more than 30 Catholic parishes across the metro Atlanta area, the statement said. The donation is the largest in the school’s history, DeWitt said.
“I want to make sure my own children someday have kids and can afford a Catholic education,” she said.
By enlarging the endowment, the donation will allow the school to offer more scholarships to disadvantaged children, DeWitt said, and pay for more professional development for school educators, including assistance with post-graduate degrees.
“It’s a big responsibility,” DeWitt said of the money.