WESTSHORE – St. Peter Claver Catholic School administration had good news to share with its supporters at its recent fundraising luncheon.
For the first time in many years the school is in “the black,” and the number of children attending the downtown school continues to grow. It now has 165 students – after a period of decline and fears of closing.
Many students are from low-income families with challenging home lives. Almost all are on scholarship at the 120-year-old institution, originally founded to serve black children.
However, the school still needs a lot of help to be able to reach more students, said the principal, Sister Maria Babatunde.
“St. Peter is about these children,” she said. “If we close our doors today, those opportunities are lost. We don’t test them (for entry). If I picked the best of the best, what happens to the rest of them?”
The March 26 event at the Doubletree Tampa Westshore drew 225 community leaders, elected officials and business supporters and raised $15,000 from the attendees. The school’s director of development, Julie Jenkins, said she also received a $35,000 challenge grant from the Triad Foundation and will work to raise matching funds.
Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman was the keynote speaker.
“What we are most proud of is the connection we have established in the community,” he said.
The Rays Foundation donates about $1 million a year to local charities and encourages its employees to donate time and money by offering employees time off and matching funds.
The event included musical selections from the St. Peter Claver Band, a first this year for the school.
Other speakers included Mike Jenson, president of the school’s advisory board, and Harold Jackson, a board member and 1967 graduate of the school.