ACTS offers brighter future for Donnelly College students

Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, enrolls more than 1,300 students each year. Approximately two-thirds of their families live on $18,000 or less a year. Many are the first in their families to attend college.
Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, enrolls more than 1,300 students each year. Approximately two-thirds of their families live on $18,000 or less a year. Many are the first in their families to attend college.

Each year, tens of thousands of people respond generously to the Archbishop’s Call to Share appeal. Their contributions help fund more than 40 ministries and services, reaching people in need throughout northeast Kansas. Catholic education is one of the appeal’s top funding priorities and Catholic schools throughout the archdiocese rely on this support. Donnelly College, a private, Catholic school in the heart of Kansas City, Kansas, is one of those schools.

Donnelly College was founded in 1949 to meet a pressing need. At the time, first-generation immigrants and the children of working-class families had little hope of attending college or university. The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas established Donnelly College to change that.

For more than six decades, the school has upheld its mission to offer a quality Catholic education to students of all backgrounds and income levels. Like other colleges and universities, the school boasts a variety of degree programs, clubs and extracurricular activities. So, what makes Donnelly College so unique? A short answer is the students it serves.

Donnelly College enrolls more than 1,300 students each year. Approximately two-thirds of their families live on $18,000 or less a year. Many are the first in their families to attend college.

“Our students are an inspiration,” said Emily Buckley, Donnelly’s vice president of advancement. “They face many challenges, yet they have a deep desire to better themselves, support their families and become leaders in their communities.”

The school has a great legacy in reaching this population traditionally underserved in higher education, but the need is greater than ever.

“We work to provide affordable tuition, scholarships, career counseling, spiritual development, mental health services, tutoring and a caring, supportive environment — everything a college student needs to thrive,” said Buckley.

Last year, Donnelly provided tuition assistance to 94 percent of its student body, awarding more than $700,000 in institutional aid. The U.S. Department of Education recently ranked Donnelly College the 76th most affordable private college in the country. In 2015, Donnelly was named the fourth most affordable small Catholic college by College Values Online.

“None of this is possible without support from the Archbishop’s Call to Share appeal,” said Buckley.

Donnelly College prides itself on its solid liberal arts education and commitment to Catholic teaching. The  college offers associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees in information systems, elementary education and organizational leadership, as well as practical nursing training. Additional programs include English as a Second Language, outreach for at-risk high school students and even a degree program for inmates at Lansing Correctional Facility.

“We are committed to investing in our students,” said Buckley. “They are the future of our communities, our city and our region.” After graduation, many of Donnelly’s alumni live and work in the Kansas City area.

“It’s amazing to hear our alums talk about where they came from and the totally different life trajectory Donnelly helped them achieve,” she said.

Donnelly’s president, Msgr. Stuart Swetland, often says, “If we are listening to Pope Francis’ call to serve those on the margins, we’d have to create a college like Donnelly. Fortunately, the vision and commitment of those before us ensured Donnelly already exists — all we need to do is support its important mission.”

The faculty, staff and especially students of Donnelly College are grateful for the generosity of the Archbishop’s Call to Share donors. Their continued support enlivens Catholic education throughout the archdiocese and offers students the promise of a brighter future.

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