Catholic School teachers who cannot afford to send their own children to a Catholic high school may now receive tuition help, thanks to Jeff Baldo, who heads up the math department at Servite High School in Anaheim. Having come from a family that believes in the value of a Catholic education, Baldo was inspired to raise money for a tuition assistance fund for the children of Catholic school teachers in Orange County.
“My parents have always supported Catholic school education,” said Baldo. “They’ve always been very generous in helping other people benefit from Catholic school education. They’ve donated scholarship money, tuition assistance money for that. And so, I thought it would be really fitting to honor them and create a tuition assistance fund here at Servite.”
Baldo graduated from Servite High School in 2002 and then went on to graduate from Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles in 2006. He found his way back to Servite in 2007 as a teacher.
“Now I’m the math department chair, but I also have a couple of film classes here as well,” he explained.
Servite High School is a ninth through 12th-grade boys’ school with approximately 800 students who come from all over Orange County, and beyond, to attend.
This is not the first fund that Baldo has created—in 2017 he started one for his fellow faculty members.
“I came to appreciate that almost all of my colleagues made that commitment to living out their vocation without any sort of backup plan or financial safety net,” Baldo said. “So, when unexpected life difficulties came about, it was very difficult for some of my colleagues to support their families and themselves,” he said.
He’d never been a fund raiser before, but he was willing to try.
JEFF BALDO AND HIS WIFE, JULIE BALDO.
We created essentially a critical needs fund here at Servite for our own faculty, full-time teachers,” he said. “I got my feet wet with fundraising, asking people to donate to that fund. We call that fund the St. Juliana Fund,” named for the Servite saint and it operates through the school. “We’ve been able to respond to anything from colleagues having injuries to more serious cancer illness, to just getting behind in bills, cars breaking down unexpectedly, things like that,” said Baldo. “And we’ve been able to help them overcome those hardships.”
That fund received so many donations that it has become self-sustaining, “which was always my goal,” he added.
That lead him to consider what he could do next—and a tuition assistance fund came to mind.
“The impetus was to help Catholic School teachers, no matter what Catholic school they taught at, to make it possible to send their boys to Servite,” he said. “Because my experience as a teacher here was that I get a lot of kids whose parents work in public education, and that’s great. But it’s very, very less often that I get boys in my classes who have parents working in Catholic schools throughout our Diocese.”
And so, a new idea began to form: to support Catholic families and make it possible to send their sons to Servite.
“If you’re teaching first graders, or you’re a teacher’s aide, that [tuition is] going to be really tough, especially if you’re a single parent,” Baldo said.
In less than a year, Servite was able to offer financial assistance for five families to make it a lot more attainable to meet their financial needs of sending their sons to Servite.
“It made a huge impact,” he said. “The appreciation that these families had for this gift was just amazing. I mean, it was truly incredible.”
The students do have to remain in good academic standing to continue to receive tuition assistance. The goal is for this fund to become sustainable, so the idea is to make sure the money grows year by year. And like the St. Juliana fund, this fund is separate from the school’s annual fundraising campaigns, though money does go through the Servite administration offices.
Baldo wants to raise money for the fund, as well as awareness among Catholic teachers so they will apply if it’s needed.
“We have reached out to the superintendent and asked that this be shared with the schools throughout the Diocese so that the teachers at the K through eight level understand that this is here for them,” he explained.
Servite is having a large fundraiser to raise money for the tuition assistance fund. Tickets can be purchased for $100 each for a raffle drawing that will occur on the Feast of the 7 Holy Founders, on Feb. 17. The prize is a 7-day, 6-night stay at a private villa in Punta Mita, Mexico, 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta—a value of $15,000—which was donated by the parents of an alumnus of Servite. The winner does not need to be present at the drawing.
Go to https://www. servitehs.org/giving/baldo-family-fund/ baldo-family-fund-raffle to buy a ticket.