The Archdiocese of Washington began a $25 million fund-raising campaign yesterday designed to overhaul its aging Catholic schools, improve services to a rapidly growing number of Hispanics and elderly people and begin a religious programming network on cable television.
The campaign represents an attempt by Archbishop James A. Hickey to finance more student scholarships, provide financial help to Catholic schoolteachers to further their education, renovate the Hispanic Catholic Center and broadcast a minimum of six hours a day on a new Catholic Capital Network.
The campaign is separate from Hickey's annual appeal to the diocese's 500,000 Catholic parishioners. It targets major donors in the Washington area -- not all Catholic -- who can contribute "$100,000 on up," according to lawyer Edward Bennett Williams, campaign chairman.
The archdiocese runs on an annual budget of about $8 million. It maintains $9 million in investments, primarily to finance insurance and retirement plans.
A two-year study showed declining enrollment in the diocese's 87 Catholic elementary schools, as well as substandard teacher pay and the inability of some parishes to pay for the upkeep of their schools.
There are 31,000 students in 112 diocesan schools. More than one-fourth are non-Catholic. In the four high schools almost half the students are non-Catholic.
Williams said this week that he accepted the job primarily because he believes the Catholic school system has become an "indispensable part of the city's school system now."
The projects proposed for financing include:A $10 million endowment to provide $1 million a year for scholarships, partly to attract new students who would receive an average of $350 to go to elementary school and $1,000 for junior and senior high school. $3 million for a new youth conference center in Upper Marlboro. $4 million to house senior citizens, help finance more than a dozen shelters for the homeless and help low-income pregnant women.