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Forward Together, With Gratitude – A Message from President J.D. Childs

Dear O’Dowd Community,

At O’Dowd, we are carefully, intentionally, and boldly moving forward to strengthen all we do as we reflect on the dramatic challenges we have experienced and are facing. We are uplifted by the many ways our community of students, alumni, and friends have reached out generously over the last months to support O’Dowd, sharing their gifts and service during this time of change and social reckoning. Guided by our faith in God and our Catholic identity as expressed in our charism, we are positioned for institutional change to continue enhancing how we educate our students to build a more just, joyful, and sustainable world.

This past Monday our Board Chair Kevin Kelly and I shared with all of you O’Dowd’s plans for accelerating and amplifying our diversity, equity, and inclusion work to ensure a culturally relevant, distinctive experience for students and families. O’Dowd has a diverse, talented community of students, alumni, and professional educators and we are committed to ensuring a safe, inclusive school for all students’ learning and formation. As part of this commitment, and guided by research and community feedback, we are strengthening remote learning and other programs amid COVID-19. Teachers are engaging in professional development opportunities this summer to enhance academic success as well as student connection and engagement for the upcoming year.

In the midst of change, we watched our community step up in many inspiring ways these past several months. Our Class of 2020 showed resilience and tremendous spirit in their graduation celebration weekend. Families came to campus for a Graduation Drive-Thru Parade where students wore their caps and gowns, were presented their diplomas, and were cheered on by teachers and staff. Now the Class of 2020 is off to college adventures across the country. We know they possess the resilience to forge ahead bravely and we are so happy to welcome these Dragons to our alumni community.

Our O’Dowd graduates are innovative, responsible, bright, and positive. At O’Dowd, students develop empathy, compassion, voices, and resilience – building blocks to drive positive change. They value the community, make their education a gift for its betterment, and treat others with respect, engaging in today’s conversations to create a more just society in the future. They are models of faith in action.

This year, O’Dowd supporters put their faith in action through generous investment in our school. Through the foresight of alumnus Jim Bill ‘55, who passed last year, O’Dowd received $5 million for an endowed fund to support tuition assistance for future students. At our annual Transforming Lives Dinner, guests raised their paddles high for tuition assistance, likewise providing economic access to deserving students. The economic diversity among our student body directly uplifts the quality of our students’ learning and prepares them to contribute and collaborate in a richly diverse world after graduation.

Gifts to our annual fund and parent pledge this year continued to provide innovative programs for formative experiences and opportunities for students. This Spring, our O’Dowd community also stepped up with generosity when many current and first-time donors contributed to O’Dowd’s Student Emergency Fund, supporting current Dragon families who have experienced loss of jobs and income amid the pandemic. Philanthropy makes an impact by directly supporting our students in countless ways, and is emblematic of how this community shows up for one another. Thank you to all who have given this year – our community is stronger because of you.

One generous regional foundation believes so much in the power of our school to nurture transformative leaders in and beyond their years at O’Dowd that they have pledged an unprecedented $20 million matching grant to build the O’Dowd Center. The O’Dowd Center is a transformational project that will serve our students and help to strengthen our programs for generations to come – it is an essential project to achieve a bright future on behalf of our students and families.

The O’Dowd Center will enhance many of the most important aspects of the student and community experience, providing uplift for our whole community. Generous early supporters have contributed landmark gifts, and we look forward to extending an invitation to our entire community for support and investment in the months ahead. The O’Dowd Center will be a place where students strengthen their individual gifts as well as a community space to strengthen shared bonds in a world yearning to come together again. Mass, music, drama, assemblies, athletics, and other shared experiences – these irreplaceable forms of community connection and belonging deserve spaces where students find inspiration, develop their talents, promote school spirit, and see their passions flourish. The O’Dowd Center fulfills this vision.

We are profoundly grateful to serve in this community of faith and take our bold next steps to successfully launch our students into a world that desperately needs their character, their commitment to justice and the common good, their talents, and their joy. You make this possible through your investment and advocacy in our life and mission. Thank you, Dragons, and keep up the great work!

You have my best,

J.D. Childs President


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