Two decades ago, Father Joseph Champlin realized that too many children in need were not graduating from high school. He desperately wanted to find a way to stop the cycle of poverty by helping these kids receive a quality education based on a strong set of values. In 1997, he started the Guardian Angel Society to raise funds for tuition assistance to allow children to attend Cathedral School and to provide mentor relationships for the young children so they would enjoy academic and social success.
In September 2006, Cathedral School and Our Lady of Pompei School merged to form Cathedral Academy at Pompei (CAP) at the Our Lady of Pompei School building. What exists today is just what Father Champlin envisioned, hoped and prayed for until his passing in January, 2008. CAP is a sanctuary for so many children – an oasis where they feel safe, loved and accepted. From there, many students choose to continue on to Bishop Grimes Prep, Bishop Ludden or Christian Brothers Academy (CBA). Father ensured scholarships would be available to those families in need until the kids’ high school graduation
To date, well over 300 students some all the way through from Kindergarten through twelfth grade, have been helped with tuition aid support made possible by generous donations from community members. Father Champlin’s Guardian Angel Society is a domestic Trust whose only sources of income are donations and grants.
Guardian Angel Society scholars represent a very diverse population. Many scholars hail from economically challenged refugee families. Because these students face more difficulties than others, their ability to succeed in junior high school can be compromised. With intervention, studies show that these “at risk” students will stay in school.
Despite the everyday challenges these families face, these parents strongly desire their children to receive a quality education and, as they have said, “to give the children the best chance for success and to build strong faith and values…”
When the Guardian Angel Society began, Father Champlin recruited a dedicated group of 40 community volunteers who provided one-on-one mentoring for the students at Cathedral School. Father’s vision produced a model program; students were well prepared for junior high and high school. In recent years, the Mentor & Tutor Program was expanded to support students in the junior and senior high schools as well. Today, many mentors choose to continue to support their mentees through high school.
Guardian Angel Society scholars have graduation rates that exceed the 2014 NYS Education Department published graduation rate of 48.8% for the Syracuse City School District.
Guardian Angel Society scholars have gone on to fine colleges and universities such as Georgetown, Notre Dame, Clarkson, Pittsburgh, Syracuse Universities, Le Moyne College and Onondaga Community College, to name a few.
The first Guardian Angel Society scholars have now graduated from college and are establishing successful careers, starting families and contributing to the community. Many of them have become Guardian Angel Society donors as well; a true testament to their gratitude for the support they received