Courtesy article by The Matthew 19:14 Project

“Thank you Matthew 19:14 Project for your generosity and partnership with helping our students.” – Jessica Snook Director of Our Lady of Joy Preschool

“We are truly grateful!” – Colleen Taylor, Resource Teacher at St. Theresa

“Thank you so much for making this possible.” – Sharon Pritash, Principal of Annunciation Catholic School

“I am so grateful and excited to have been awarded this grant.” – MaryAnne Vaughn, Resource Teacher, St.Thomas the Apostle

These are a few examples of the sentiments of recent mini grant award recipients around the Diocese of Phoenix Catholic schools. The Matthew 19:14 Project (TMP) is a 501c3 non-profit organization in existence since 2020. It was formerly known as ACSDF (Arizona Catholic Schools Disability Fund) which started in 2015. It is comprised of a board of volunteers whose mission is to “provide Arizona’s Catholic schools with the resources and support for the success of students with special needs because a Catholic education should be accessible for all children.”

At Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Tempe, Leah Valenzuela, the school’s Reading Specialist, was thrilled to be awarded her school’s mini-grant to purchase tools and resources that exceptional students need to be successful in the classroom, and stated, “All students can benefit from these items, not just those on support plans.” Principal Dr. Kelly Shewbridge added, “We cannot wait to purchase these new tools for our students and look forward to sharing the impact that they have on our students.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel was one of 18 Phoenix Diocese Catholic Schools recently awarded grant funds from The Matthew 19:14 Project to help them educate students with disabilities and exceptional learning needs. A recent $25,000 donation to the Matthew 19:14 Project funded the recent successful mini-grant cycle, and a $50,000 donation from the Phoenix Diocese will fund the next mini-grant cycle at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year. Additionally, The Matthew 19:14 Project recently applied to be one of the organizations to receive funding from the Charity and Development Appeal. With increased funding from donations to fulfill its mission, the Matthew 19:14 Project plans to provide ongoing funding to accredited Catholic Schools in the state of Arizona, all of whom now have students with special needs, which requires specialized resources and training for all faculty. While public schools receive some state and federal funding for the education of students with disabilities, Catholic Schools and other private schools do not, leaving a significant financial need to help these students who attend our Catholic Schools.

Kahili Southworth, Reading Specialist at Our Lady of Perpetual Help-Scottsdale, received funds in her grant that will pay for her to attend an intensive reading intervention program designed for students with dyslexia or learning disabilities in reading. “This training will not only impact a few of my students, it will help each and every one of them,” said Kahili.

In this grant cycle there were twenty six successful grant awards from sixteen elementary schools, one preschool and one high school in and around Phoenix but also as far away as Lake Havasu and Prescott Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Phoenix. Grants were awarded not only for materials necessary to assist students with special needs such as autism, learning disabilities, speech and language needs or intellectual impairments but also for teachers to attend specialized trainings to better meet the needs of these students as well as giving schools the ability to hire consultants that specialize in special education to assist the school with better serving exceptional learners.

The Matthew 19:14 Project’s future plans are to provide more needed resources to these and other Phoenix Catholic Schools as they educate all their students in loving, inclusive communities. To find out more about The Matthew 19:14 Project, including how to make donations to support its mission, visit . TMP also can be found on Instagram (@thematthew1914project) and Facebook (The Matthew 1914 Project/Exceptional Learners).