Portland, OR. St. Mary’s Academy raised $500,000 during its 27th annual Food for Thought fundraiser. Due to COVID-19, this is the first time the fundraiser has gone virtual in order to help support financial aid access for its students. More than 800 guests from across the globe joined the event to listen to a range of topics from motivation in the pursuit of one’s passions, to becoming a leader, to always staying true to yourself and the importance of giving back.

The featured guest of the event, Misty Copeland, Principal Dancer for American Ballet Theatre, shared her story and answered questions in a conversation with St. Mary’s senior, Kyra Bonta, current St. Mary’s dance instructor, Jessica Zoller, and St. Mary’s alumna, Jenny White.

Misty Copeland the featured guest of the event says, “Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful, and believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.”

This school year, St. Mary’s will provide over $2 million in financial aid to 42% of families. The fundraiser, Food for Thought, has allowed St. Mary’s to provide a college-preparatory education to any young woman who desires it, regardless of financial circumstances.

Maya DaSilva, a current junior at St. Mary’s, also spoke at the fundraiser about why she loves the school and why tuition assistance is important. “The SMA community believes there is inherent value in young women. That their thoughts, voices, and ideas are worthy. That they are necessary in the workplace and that each brings extraordinary skills and assets to various forms of leading, serving, creating, discovering.”

Maya DaSilva, current junior at St. Mary’s Academy spoke at the fundraiser in support of her school.

St. Mary’s Academy is Oregon state’s oldest continuously operating school and the only all-girls school that serves 680 young women. St. Mary’s has a 100% college acceptance rate where students achieve, excel, and are recognized locally, regionally, and nationally in academic fields, leadership, STEM, the arts, athletics, community service, and extra-and co-curricular activities.

Donations from the fundraiser will provide St. Mary’s students with:

  • $15,995 will sponsor a student’s tuition for one year
  • $8,000 will fund the average financial aid award for one student
  • $5,300 will cover the gap between tuition and the actual cost of education
  • $2,000 will fund a quarter of the average financial aid award for one student
  • $1,056 provides a fully equipped iPad for two students receiving financial aid
  • $528 provides a fully equipped iPad for one student receiving financial aid
  • $283 provides one dollar for each student receiving financial aid

The event was co-chaired by the women of the St. Mary’s Board of Directors. Board member, Kimberly Cooper, shares why she supports St. Mary’s. “Education is the great elevator – anyone who enters, rises up to new heights – and access to a world-class education for young women at St. Mary’s Academy helps propel them higher. They are our future, and when they rise, we all rise!”

From St. Mary’s Academy website: St. Mary’s Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary since 1859, is a Catholic high school for young women, providing a challenging college-preparatory education in a vibrant learning environment. Guided by the values and charism of the Sisters, St. Mary’s fosters a diverse community, educates the whole person by nurturing spirituality, encouraging creativity, promoting justice, and inspiring a sense of global interdependence to prepare students for service and leadership.