Fairfield, CT – On May 17, the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport held its 9th Annual Golf Classic at the Country Club of Fairfield. The event, held in honor of longtime supporters Barbara and Brad Evans, raised more than $560,000 for need-based scholarship, and it was the best-grossing fundraiser in the history of the school. The Evans’s have been actively engaged with the Academy for the past 13 years. Mr. Evans has served as Board Chair since 2015.
Twenty-four foursomes enjoyed a day of golf under blue skies and temperatures in the 70’s then joined an additional 80 guests later in the day for a cocktail reception, where speaker and alumna Jennifer Melo wowed the crowd with her testimony. A soon-to-be freshman at Princeton University, Melo grew up in Bridgeport with her single mother, Rosanna, who was also in the audience. “Coming from a family where no one had ever received or pursued a higher education, she had a dream that one day she would be able to watch her only daughter walk across the stage and grab her diploma. Equipped with a goal she would work tirelessly to ensure, she turned to the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport.”
Melo said the staff who educated and shaped her throughout her middle school years at the Academy were “unparalleled,” adding, “I knew I could count on them for anything. I felt so much love, support, and generosity throughout my years there. The foundation I was given at CAB gave me the confidence in high school to form so many close bonds with peers and staff and to pursue leadership positions. I launched clubs, service projects, and grew in wisdom.”
Melo plans to focus her college studies on international relations, third-world development, and economics, and hopes to make a difference in Brazil’s socio-economic challenges, the country of her family’s origin. “The children there with no educational opportunities, and the people struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables is what I choose to dedicate my life to. All of my academic and social accomplishments, all of my sweat and tears, and everything I have done that has proven me worthy to attend Princeton University I did not do for myself, but for them, the nation, and humanity…As a society, we cannot ignore the possibility of unrecognized genius that goes to waste due to lack of opportunity.”
Speaking directly to the audience, Melo added, “If the world was deprived of generous people like all of you, I would not have had the opportunity to be where I am today. Educational donors are not only making monumental impacts on people’s entire lives – like mine – but they are investing in the most powerful means to reach universal harmony. It’s not just students that donors impact, but humanity as a whole.”
Following Melo, a robust live auction took place with items including a threesome of golf at National Golf Links, a “Taste of the Track for Two” at Monticello Motor Club, a 1:1 Zoom with former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, and a 6-course chef’s tasting at Southport’s renowned Paci Restaurant.
Next was a paddle raise for scholarship, since 85% of the Academy’s nearly 800 students cannot afford the annual tuition of $5,150 and the school must raise $2.1 million each year alone for this. Midway through, one guest spontaneously offered to match the next $30,000 in gifts. Once that was matched, another guest unexpectedly offered to match the next $25,000 in pledges. When that too was matched, unbelievably yet another guest offered to match the next $20,000 in gifts. The atmosphere was absolutely electric with participation bubbling up from every corner of the venue.
Bishop Caggiano then invited Barbara and Brad Evans to the podium where he presented them with an award for working tirelessly on behalf of CAB students, faculty and staff. “Their commitment to education and giving back can be witnessed throughout their lifetime together,” said Caggiano.
Mrs. Evans, a graduate of the Eliot Pearson School of Education at Tufts University and an elementary school teacher for many years, sits on the Board of the Partnership Schools and is a former Board member of The Southport School, the Mercy Learning Center, and the Collegiate School. Barbara has worked to foster significant alliances between many of these organizations and the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport in an effort to take curriculum and social-emotional learning to the next level.
Mr. Evans, a graduate of Dartmouth and Columbia Business School, and a Senior Advisor at Morgan Stanley where he has worked since 1970, is equally passionate about education initiatives, particularly in inner cities. He is the Founder and Co-Chair of the Horizons Summer Enrichment Program at Sacred Heart University, and a Board member of Wakeman Boys and Girls Club and Foundations in Education. As a Board member for more than a decade and current Board Chair for the past 6 years, Mr. Evans has worked to grow the Board, develop strong subcommittees, increase enrollment, build new partnerships, and welcome its newest Executive Director — all while keeping the Board focused on its mission.
The Evans’s have been dedicated to supporting scholarship funds, as well as founding and funding a program called the New Student Initiative. “Their humility, integrity, and lively faith in action reveal their belief that through generosity and care for others, especially the marginalized, they are continuing God’s work in this world,” said the Bishop.
The evening culminated with recognition of the first-ever class of Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) students and their faithful sponsors. The Catholic Academy of Bridgeport launched the LOT program in 2013 with 11 donors sponsoring 11 students. Today, 46 donors fully or partially sponsor 88 students. The applause was hearty and heartfelt as seven of these original LOT students and their sponsors or representatives were recognized together. All of these 8th graders were accepted into excellent private high schools, and many received merit-based awards for their grades, test scores, and community service.
The Golf Classic was a success on every front and countless lives will be changed because of the generosity and support of so many individuals, groups, and family foundations.
To find out more about the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport or to make a donation toward need-based scholarship, please visit www.catholicacademybridgeport.org or call 203-362-2990.
To see pictures from the 9th Annual Golf Classic, please go to: