Charity That Changes Lives | Chroniclers



Government-run schools fail children.

Teacher unions and education bureaucrats say, “We need more money!

But America is already spending a fortune on public schools.

My city, New York, spends $ 28,000 per student – half a million dollars per class! Think what you could do with that money: hire five teachers? Pay for private tutors?

Where is the $ 28,000 going? No one really knows. When governments run things, the money disappears into the bureaucracy. NYC spends $ 3 million a year on “executive superintendents” and $ 10 million on consultants.

Some charter schools offer better training for less. But New York politicians are limiting the number of charter schools. As a result, 48,000 children are waiting on waiting lists.

Fortunately, some charities stepped in to help.

My video this week features Student Sponsor Partners, or SSP, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income students attend Catholic schools.

Jeniffer Gutierrez, a mother from the Bronx, was delighted to receive the SSP acceptance letter. “I cried so much when I received this letter because I knew it was an opportunity for my son… High schools in the Bronx are violent. There is no discipline. There is no education.

Her son Tyler did not feel safe in public school. “One of my best friends was shot dead right next to me,” he recalls.

Many Catholic schools, although they pass a lot less per student than public schools do better. SSP sent Tyler to Cardinal Hayes High School, where, Gutierrez says, teachers helped his son “get ahead in life.”

Tyler now attends St. John’s University on a scholarship. He and thousands of other SSP students are on the road to success.

This is why I support SSP. I am not a Catholic, but I have paid the tuition fees of dozens of children in Catholic school and have personally supervised five of them.

This mentoring makes SSP different. SSP assigns an adult to each student. Often, these relationships continue after students graduate.

Jorge Aguilar says his mentor “planted seeds in my brain that I could do great things in life.” Aguilar then became the first person in his family to go to university. Now he’s a doctor.

“PAS helped me break the chain of poverty,” he says.

Eighty-five percent of SSP children graduate from high school, twice as many as their public school peers. Most are accepted by colleges.

It all happened because decades ago philanthropist Peter Flanigan wanted to offer parents an alternative to public schools. He hoped this would help at-risk adolescents escape poverty.

He started SSP. One of the first children he helped was Debra Vizzi.

“I was homeless,” she told me. “I left an abusive foster home and was kind of jumping from shelter to shelter.”

She met Flanigan at a soup kitchen. He told her that he would pay for her to attend Cathedral High School.

“I was suspicious, especially when I was a kid on the streets, but he was legitimate,” Vizzi laughs. “He paid $ 350 for me to go to one of the best high schools in New York City.”

Flannigan’s mentorship gave Vizzi more than a better education. “He helped me to trust men, to believe in people, to have a future. Even helped me become a mother later … something I hadn’t had.

Vizzi is now the Executive Director of SSP.

“If you had told me when I was 12, I would run this organization, I would have said you were crazy.”

This year, the SSP has a thousand students enrolled in different private high schools.

Want to help? SSP is looking for more people to mentor a student and more donors to help pay. You can get more information at

Maybe you will join us and help more kids escape bad government run schools.

Jean Stossel is the author of “No, they can’t! Why government fails, but individuals succeed.



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