WEST HARTFORD — Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford recently received $1 million, the largest single gift in school history. The donation is helping lay the foundation for the school’s extensive NWC Vision 2021 master plan, which will include providing financial aid, advancing programs and professional development, and providing seed money for a multimillion, multiphase renovation.
In 2021 Northwest Catholic will celebrate its 60th anniversary. For six decades the school has delivered a world class Catholic education to more than 9000 students throughout greater Hartford. The late Dr. Lee Damuth and his wife Adeline, West Hartford residents and loyal supporters of Northwest Catholic, understood the school’s mission and imprint on the community. In their planned giving, through the Dr. R. Lee and Adeline J. Damuth Foundation, the couple left in bequest one million dollars to Northwest Catholic High School.
Dr. and Mrs. Damuth’s generosity has been felt at Northwest Catholic since the 1990s when the annual Damuth Music Scholarship was first launched. This annual scholarship rewards accomplished musicians and provides access — one of the school’s top priorities — to students who otherwise might not be able to attend. What’s as remarkable as the couple’s generosity is the fact that they were not Northwest Catholic alumni nor were they current or alumni parents. The late Dr. Damuth was a dentist in West Hartford, and his wife Adeline, who passed in 2012, 10 years after her husband, supported Northwest Catholic because they were impressed by the Northwest Catholic community.
Northwest Catholic’s President and Head of School Christian J. Cashman learned last spring that the gift would be given to the school this summer. The trustee of the The Dr. R. Lee and Adeline J. Damuth Foundation chose this time to release the gift as the school is positioning itself for the future. Cashman said, “The gift is a launching pad. It’s a gift to garner other gifts.” He continued, “In fact, two other donors have already stepped up and together have pledged an additional 1.1 million.” Cashman reiterated, “We have already raised 2.1 million against our 3.5 million dollar goal for NWC Vision 2021. The message of this gift from the Damuth Foundation is invest in Northwest.” Cashman also pointed out that this gift comes on the heels of the news that NWC broke a school record and exceeded its goal in annual fund giving as of June 30, raising $1.5 million.
Cashman said, “It’s such a resounding endorsement of the school and takes the longview of Catholic education in the region.” He went on to explain how the gift will endow programs and ensure access. “Northwest provides between 1.8 and 1.9 million dollars in financial assistance every year. We are committed to the school’s socioeconomic diversity. Catholic institutions weren’t founded to be elitist organizations. That’s why access is so important. We don’t want a single family who wants Catholic education to be shut out.”
The gift will also support the school’s Catholic identity, specifically its commitment to service and to faculty formation and development, and funding its extensive co-curricular programs that help to educate the whole person.
Third, the gift will be the seed money for a multimillion facilities upgrade, which will respond to the needs of students, including extensive upgrades to the school’s STEM classrooms and athletic fields and facilities.
Northwest Catholic is immersed in a two-year self study and strategic planning process. They have put into action surveys, interviews, focus groups, and institutional research instruments to map out a comprehensive strategic plan. The have also employed Drummey Rosane Anderson Architects to create a master plan to render facility upgrades.
Cashman said, “We are not the same school we were 60 years ago. We are evolving. Connecticut is contracting and so are we. We are exactly where we expect to be, and we are hitting all targets.” Cashman continued, “Our mission hasn’t changed. We are Catholic, college prep, and whole person, and we aren’t backing off that. Diversity continues to be incredibly important to us. We are racially, ethnically, geographically, and socioeconomically diverse and will continue to be.” Cashman repeated, “Access is so important. Ideally we’d be need-blind. We want any family that wants Catholic education to be able to come.” Cashman concluded, “Our graduates are the real story — what they do with their lives, how they give back to their communities and to Connecticut. It’s humbling.”
Cashman spoke of how Northwest Catholic is positioned to be a regional leader in Catholic education. He commented on developing partnerships with neighboring institutions such as Ben Bronz and the University of Saint Joseph. The school is planning for the future, thinking strategically, pooling resources, and making smart financial decisions. Cashman said, “Northwest Catholic is taking the long view. We want to be an example in our region of collaboration and inspired community vision.”
Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford is a diverse, Catholic, co-ed, college preparatory community, educating the whole person — mind, body, spirit, and imagination since 1961. Learn more at www.northwestcatholic.org.