By JULIETA GONZALEZ
An appreciation breakfast May 20 thanked corporate partners for supporting education and the Catholic Tuition Support Organization at the Arizona Inn.
Pat Lopez, CTSO Board President; Don Loose, Corporate Committee Chairman and CTSO Executive Director Gracie Quiroz thanked corporate partners for providing corporate tax credit donations to CTSO.
The more than $4.2 million dollars in corporate tax credits provided more than 1,640 students in 26 Catholic schools with scholarships. Quiroz said that the average corporate scholarship per student totals $1,900.
“This is a great help to families who otherwise would not be able to afford a quality morals-based education,” Quiroz said.
Among the myths about Catholic education that Lopez, a local attorney, “busted,” is that tuition tax credits only help the rich Catholics send their children to private schools.
“The truth is that 63 percent of the students enrolled in our schools receive financial aid and 25 percent of our students are non-Catholic,” said Lopez. “The tax credit programs costs donors nothing and economic studies indicated that tax credits for private schools actually saves the State of Arizona money.”
Loose, also a local attorney, introduced two student representatives who thanked those present for their own scholarship for the opportunity to attend Catholic schools in order to prepare properly for higher education and beyond. Elijah Gutierrez, a fifth grader at Santa Cruz Catholic School spoke of the “caring, stimulating and supportive environment” which allows him to pursue his love of science as well as participate in athletics and arts activities.
Gutierrez said he is especially committed to the study of planet Earth and how science can protect it. In addition to his academic pursuits, he appreciates his teachers and classmates who treat him with respect and kindness.
“This comes from our school’s main values which are to seek, persist, excel, love and serve,” Gutierrez said. “As students, we are taught these core values right when we walk into our school.”
He is also a volunteer altar server at his parish.
Kiana Montoya graduated in the class of 2015 from St. Augustine Catholic High School with honors ,and has held leadership positions throughout her high school years, most recently as senior class president.
“My sister and I have been blessed with corporate scholarships which allowed us to attend excellent Catholic schools from the very beginning,” Montoya said. “We are grateful because these scholarships have given us the opportunity to seriously and consistently strive for excellence and success at every level.”
She credits her Catholic education for deepening her faith and to pursue volunteer activities as a lector and Eucharistic Minister in her parish. Montoya was accepted by and received a scholarship to attend Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. She plans to major in secondary education with an emphasis in mathematics.
Philip Dion, the Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Customer Solutions for Unisource/Tucson Electric Power, stressed the critical need for strong ties between a healthy community and corporate responsibility in support of education.
“As a corporate partner, if your company does well, you need to serve everyone in your community,” Dion said.
He added that his company is fully aligned with the education values of CTSO.
“Education is a key element within the infrastructure of a community,” he said.
He went on to say that not only is Unisource/TEP committed to providing financial support to the communities in which the company conducts business, but the 2,000 employees contribute more than 40,000 community service hours yearly.