BY JOE LEARY
SPECIAL TO THE BIR
Public documents to be filed with the IRS and many state agencies throughout the United States reveal that The Irish American Partnership headquartered here in Boston raised nearly $900,000 in the year 2013, a 25 percent increase over 2012.
Expenses were less than 20 percent, allowing for more than $700,000 to be sent to education and community groups in Ireland. The Partnership concentrates its support on smaller schools in rural Ireland, with a focus on school library building and science teaching materials.
Says Mary Sugrue McAleer, executive director of the Partnership: “Many Irish Americans, especially Partrnership members, want to remain connected to their Irish heritage. They select the townland, village, and town or county from which they or their ancestors emigrated to receive funds. Some even choose specific schools.”
Partnership donations were received from throughout the United States, with California, New York, Illinois, Virginia, and Massachusetts the leaders. Events were held in Chicago, Washington D.C., and Boston, with golf tournaments in Albany, Chicago, and Newport, RI.
In addition to having a successful fund-raising year, the Partnership established a new Endowment Fund that is dedicated in perpetuity to Irish education, making a $300,000 initial deposit resulting from special donations and savings over the years. The Endowment Fund will be built with an appeal to donors to add Irish Education or specific community groups to their bequests. Donors will be able to specify which schools or areas will receive the earnings from the fund.
Though the economy is somewhat improving in Ireland, funds received from the Irish diaspora in the United States can be extremely helpful. The Partnership receives many letters expressing gratitude and appreciation from some very small primary schools in Western Ireland.
Clonmoney National School, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare: “Firstly, thanks to the help of your generous grant received in May, we have set up the “Accelerated Reader” programme here at Clonmomey. This is a programme which encourages children to read more books and in having the books, they must answer questions on the computer relating to what they have read.”
– Benedicta McEvoy, Principal
Holy Family National School, Newport, Co. Mayo: “I wanted to thank you most sincerely for the wonderful grant of $675 which we received from you yesterday. This grant will mean that our students from Sixth (Senior) Class will be able to travel from Newport County Mayo to the RDS Primary Science fair in Dublin this coming weekend.”
– Brid Chamber, Principal
St. Brendan’s National School, Kilmeena Westport, Co. Mayo: “We are in a designated disadvantaged area by the Department of Education. It is an unemployment black spot and unfortunately we have lost some families to emigration over the recent years. It is heart breaking to see them go but we realize they are making a better life for themselves. It is with great delight that I received your generous donation and letter in the post.”
– Michael Carney, Principal and teacher
Midleton National School, Midleton, Co. Cork: “The pupils are busy putting together their last details on their Science project that will be on show at the RDS Primary Science Fair 2014. The pupils are very excited about showcasing their enjoyment and passion in Science.”
– Rhodi Mears, Principal
Scoil Cholmcille Christian Brothers School, Cork City: “What a lovely beginning to the new year, We know exactly what to do with the money, we have a plan to set up book clubs for the boys in the senior classes and this will allow us to purchase books that the students will be interested in. If it is acceptable with you we would call the project the KELLEY BOOKCLUB in memory of Josephine.”
– Billy Lynch, Principal
The last letter was received after five schools in Cork City each received a $2,000 grant in memory of Josephine Kelley, the mother of the Partnership’s former chairman, General P.X. Kelley USMC (Ret.).
The grants were presented in Washington DC at the Women’s Christmas (Nollaig na mBan) Partnership breakfast. There are many more such sentiments on the record, all of which are testament to the value of Partnership grants to small schools, and one of the reasons for its growth over the years.