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Courtesy of St. Francis Prep
St. Francis Prep alum, John Tuffy, class of 1956, and wife Leslie. Tuffy offered to donate his stimulus check to support students and their families struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Francis Prep has launched a new program ensuring that every single student receives a Franciscan education. 

On May 5, St. Francis Prep President, Brother Leonard Conway, launched the #TerrierSTAR Program — or Student Tuition Assistance and Relief — that will continue through June 19 across all social media platforms. 

In recent weeks, Conway had reached out to families advising them that no student would be asked to leave if their family was suffering hardship due to the impact of the pandemic.

“Many of our Prep families have been beset by the loss of a job, a business closure, disappearing income, illness and even the passing of loved ones,” Conway said in a heartfelt video released on May 5. “Some of the stories have been absolutely heartbreaking.” 

To ease the burden, Conway allowed for deferral of tuition payments, pledging that no student will be denied a St. Francis Prep education. Over $2 million in payments have been deferred and will require intervention and/or underwriting at some point, Conway said.  

Concurrently, the school, whose beginnings date back to 1858, saw alumni reaching out to offer any assistance. One alum, John Tuffy, from the class of 1956, emailed Conway offering to donate his stimulus check. 

“One particular area of need really spoke to me. It occurred to me that some, perhaps many, good and dedicated St. Francis Prep students’ fine education might be in peril because their parents find themselves in economic distress due to coronavirus-related layoffs or displacements and unable to make tuition payments,” Tuffy said. “We, as Christians and individuals, were formed by the model of humility and caring of our patron, St. Francis, just can’t let that happen.” 

On May 7, St. Francis Prep received a special video message from alumni, Julie Chen Moonves, TV news anchor and CBS producer, who agreed to match donations to Prep’s TerrierSTAR Program. 

Moonves, a member of the class of 1987 and Hall of Famer, recognized Prep’s faculty and students, who have been adjusting to the new normal of online learning. 

“This has been a very difficult time for the entire Prep community,” Moonves said. “Prep took me in as a sophomore and they helped put me on that path — Prep changed my life. “Together, let’s help keep these kids on their path. High school is and should be four years. Prep is indeed forever.” 

St. Francis Prep sends over 99 percent of its seniors to college. Last year alone, the graduating class earned over $169 million in merit scholarships. Three departments — guidance, art and music — have been awarded the prestigious “Program of Distinction” from the Middle States Association of Colleges and School. 

There is an incredible array of honors, advanced placement and elective courses in each department. Students have a wide range of extracurricular activities to become part of, and the athletics program offers both traditional and unique sports. 

The average amount still owed by a student and family for this semester is $1,500. Most will not be able to pay off that amount. St. Francis Prep is requesting sponsorship to a family with $1,500 (or multiple families). Otherwise, consider a partial sponsorship by donating $300 (one-fifth); $750 (one-half) or whatever you can afford. 

St. Francis Prep has arranged for monthly payments options if donors prefer to pledge their support over time. 

To make a donation to St. Francis Prep’s #TerrierSTAR Program, visit alumni.sfponline.org/donations/donate.asp?id=19718 

For more information contact The Office of the President, 718-423-8810, ext. 232, or The St. Francis Prep Development Office, 718-423-8810, ext. 269.

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