Faths pledge historic gift to CISE to help kids afford Catholic high school

The Faths keep turning heads with their philanthropy — this time returning to a familiar passion.

The foundation of CISE (Catholic Inner-city Schools Education) announced Dec. 21 that it had received a $50 million pledge from Harry and Linda Fath to establish an endowment that will award scholarships to CISE-supported Catholic elementary school graduates to go to local Catholic high schools. In addition, the gift will strengthen student support systems at local high schools to help ensure the continued success of these scholars.

“Their continued support will enable CISE to provide the resources necessary for our students to continue their Catholic, value-based education,” said Phil McHugh, the longtime Fifth Third Bank executive and community volunteer who became president and interim executive director of CISE in early 2022. “A quality education is the best investment we can make in our children and community.”

Phil McHugh with a student at a school supported by CISE.

In making the largest gift in CISE’s 40-year history, the Faths continue a long history of support of CISE.

Harry was a long-standing member of the CISE board and now serves as an emeritus member. In addition, he played an instrumental role in creating its foundation. The couple have been loyal contributors to CISE for several decades.

The $50 million gift brings to more than $200 million the Faths have pledged in 2022 alone, and nearly $500 million since 2017. (See another story breaking this week about the Fath’s philanthropy: https://moversmakers.org/2022/12/20/faths-2022-giving-reaches-record-151-million/)

CISE was established to help combat poverty in Cincinnati’s inner-city neighborhoods. CISE was founded to give all children, regardless of their religious backgrounds or economic circumstances, the opportunity to receive an education at a neighborhood Catholic school.

Currently, 66% of CISE school students are non-Catholic and 88% are minorities.

CISE was created in 1982 by then Archbishop of Cincinnati Joseph Bernadin and businessmen Ralph Lazarus (son of the founder of what is now Macy’s) and Edward Harness, the chairman and chief executive officer of Cincinnati’s Procter & Gamble Co. beginning in the mid-1970s through early 1980s. The trio of community leaders of three different faiths united with the mutual goal of utilizing these parish schools, providing Catholic school opportunities for challenged families, and leveraging the generosity of the broader community.

Today, CISE supports nearly 2,300 students attending 10 elementary schools and an additional 406 students attending a Catholic high school.

“CISE is a remarkable organization in our Cincinnati community,” said Harry Fath. “Linda and I are honored to make this gift to the CISE Foundation to provide a quality, Catholic education for the inner-city
children of Cincinnati. My own Catholic education made me who I am today. It is our hope that this gift will transform the lives of many children for the better.”

Harry Fath was raised in Cincinnati and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1959. He continued his Catholic education at the University of Notre Dame, later serving in the U.S. Army and earning a law degree. He is the owner of Fath Properties, a real estate firm owning and managing over 8,000 apartment units nationally.

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