Inner-City Scholarship Fund Friends Gala Raises Record-Breaking $1.6 Million


Evan Cardona used his speech May 10 at the 45th annual Inner-City Scholarship Fund Friends Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan as an opportunity to say thank you for his Catholic school education made possible by the scholarship fund.

The gala, attended by more than 350 guests, raised a record-breaking $1.6 million for the scholarship fund, which was founded in 1971 by Cardinal Terence Cooke to provide tuition assistance to inner-city Catholic school students.

“There’s a quote that I really value and that quote is ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’” said Cardona, a junior at All Hallows High School in the Bronx. “We may have all heard this quote before, but this quote means a lot to me because it is something my mom has taught me and it is a principle that I try to live by.

“It is especially meaningful tonight because I am one of 9,000 students who have been empowered by the gift of a Catholic school education thanks to the generosity of people like you.”

Cardona attended St. Brendan School in the Bronx and now All Hallows, where he’s thankful for the relationships with friends and teachers, and the way All Hallows challenges its students to help them reach their full potential, academically and morally. 

“The biggest lesson I've received at All Hallows happens to be our school motto—Learn, Earn and Return,” he said. “My school instills us with the virtues of character, empathy, selflessness and, most of all, using the talents that God has given us to help and serve others.”

Susan George, executive director for the Inner City Scholarship Fund for 18 years, announced Inner City’s new Shirley Jean Dolan Memorial Scholarship, named after Cardinal Dolan mother, Shirley Jean Radcliffe Dolan, who passed away March 12 at age 93. 

Katalina Davis, who will be a junior at Notre Dame School in Manhattan in the fall, is the recipient of the first Shirley Jean Dolan Memorial Scholarship which will provide a scholarship to a boy or girl through their graduation from high school.

“I’ve been amazed by the generosity of so many people who recognize what a lifeline our Catholic schools are to thousands of inner-city students in New York,” Ms. George said.

In his remarks, Cardinal Dolan thanked the student sponsors, and Ms. George and her staff for giving inner-city students the opportunity to receive a Catholic school education. He gave high marks to inner-city Catholic schools in the archdiocese for remaining open during the Covid pandemic and for staying clear of the parental rights controversy affecting public schools across the country.

“We can say that’s never been a controversy for us at all,” he said. “We believe in the primacy of parental rights. We believe our schools are at their best when they simply work as an agent of the parent in educating their kids in the best way possible.

“I don't know about you but I didn't need any further proof of the stellar quality of our Catholic schools. But if anyone was looking for any further affirmation, all you had to do is look at what we did in Covid and what we do in the area of parental rights.” 

The guests enjoyed dinner and dancing, and a “Welcome Back” performance by students of Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx and Notre Dame School in Manhattan. 

Jon and Mary Rather, who currently sponsor tuition for seven children in the Inner-City Scholarship Fund program, including Evan Cardona, served as event chairs.

“For those of you here tonight to support a student, a school or a program, we extend our sincere and heartfelt thank you,” Rather said. “And if you’re new to Inner City, please consider giving of your time, talent or financial support to help these amazing children in need, and in supporting Inner-City.

“You will receive more in return than you could ever possibly give.”