History & Mission


We aim to advance Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia through innovative programs and projects initiated by Catholic schools, colleges, parishes, and religious and other Catholic-focused organizations. We fund projects and programs that educate people in the Catholic faith, strengthen the practice of the Catholic faith, and make it a more meaningful influence in their daily lives.


The Archdiocesan Educational Fund continues the mission and vision of Matthew H. McCloskey Jr. (1893-1973), whose three priorities were his family, his faith, and his friends. The building contractor and United States Ambassador to Ireland (1962-1964) believed deeply in Catholic education and in teaching people about the Catholic faith. Committed to this cause, the self-made millionaire launched this independent foundation in 1967 with a gift of $500,000 and with a primary focus on secondary education. Matt McCloskey died in 1973 at the age of 80, bequeathing more than $5 million to the philanthropic organization he founded to strengthen Catholic education throughout the Philadelphia region.


Founding Board of Directors
December 18, 1967

His Eminence, John Cardinal Krol, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Chairman
Most Rev. Gerald V. McDevitt, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Rev. Arthur J. Nace, Diocesan Controller
Honorable Matthew H. McCloskey Jr., President
John F. Connelly, Vice President
William K. Stewart, Esq. Treasurer and Secretary

The current board consists of 10 laity and three clergy.


The Arch-Ed Timeline

The 1960s

Inspired By
His Faith

Building contractor and former United States Ambassador to Ireland Matt McCloskey Jr. is so guided by, and committed to, his own Catholic faith that he wants others to appreciate its gifts as well. So he put his money behind it.

Education was key to a deeper understanding and practice of Catholicism. Reaching students in the archdiocesan high schools was top priority.

November 1967

Matthew H. McCloskey Jr. kicks off Archdiocesan Educational Fund with $500,000 gift

November 1967

Archdiocesan Educational Fund By-Laws approved

December 1967

Board of Directors meets for the first time

The 1970s

Acting on
a vision

The young foundation loses its founder, but not before he sees his dream come true — the award of its first grant.

More awards were sure to come, thanks to Matthew Jr.’s sizeable bequest intended to promote Catholic education and the Catholic faith, and to his creation of a strong family legacy of philanthropy.

Photo courtesy of the Catholic Historical Research Center of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Robert and Theresa Halvey Photograph Collection.

1973 - 74

Fund awards its first grant — $17,000 — to the archdiocese for the Interparochial Cooperation Fund.

April 1973

Matthew H. McCloskey Jr. dies at the age of 80, leaving $5.1 million to the Fund. His son Matthew III succeeds him as president.

May 1974

Archdiocesan secondary school system parks $232,500 in the Fund, restricted for investment in the secondary schools and producing $25,000 for three distributions through the rest of the decade.

Late 1970s

Fund awards $175,000 to the archdiocese to defray school system expenses, support secondary schools, and provide subscriptions to The Catholic Standard & Times newspaper to parishioners throughout the archdiocese.

1980s & 1990s

Expanding Student

Two decades of an annual grant to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia subsidizes education across five counties, including support for students unable to meet tuition obligations.

This investment in student aspirations complements efforts by business and civic leaders to shore up Catholic education and increase its affordability for families across the archdiocese. Matthew III dies November 19, 1999.

1980s - 1990s

Distributes close to $17.5 million directly to the archdiocese to reduce student tuitions in deserving cases, assist delinquent parishes in their portion of tuition agreements, and alleviate school deficits

1980s - 1990s

Supports archdiocesan communications through the Media Center, in providing The Catholic Standard & Times to newly married couples, and in educating Catholics about the Bishop’s Pastoral on Nuclear Arms


Jumpstarts BLOCS (Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools) with $806,000 gift

The 2000s

Extending our

The new century brings with it new situations calling for broader and deeper impact. Annual secondary school support continues, but requests from new grant seekers are added to the mix.

Matthew Jr.’s grandson Matthew IV becomes board president, and great-grandson M. Patrick McCloskey, Esq. joins the board (2000). First-time awards go to the archdiocesan schools for special needs students and to an independent Catholic school serving low-income multicultural students of all faiths living in one of the lowest-performing school districts in Pennsylvania.


Cumulative decade-long operational grants total $10,362,000 for K-12 schools.


First designated grant for special education — $150,000 for learning disabilities. Cumulative grants to Special Education schools total $400,000


First designated grant to a Catholic independent school — $100,000 to Drexel Neumann Academy — for endowment

2008 - Present

Inviting new

Fund directors begin fifth decade with reduced focus on central office operations and increased attention on spiritual formation, parish and school ministry, diverse student populations, multiple education providers, and innovative solutions to fiscal and enrollment problems surfacing across the archdiocese.

New grant process beginning in fall 2014 invites competitive proposals for novel and creative initiatives from central archdiocesan education departments, Catholic schools, the archdiocesan seminary, and Catholic organizations. Total grants increase from four awarded for fiscal 2008 to 24 awarded for fiscal 2018. Three of Matthew Jr.’s great-grandsons — Andrew, Brian, Sean — join their father in concurrently serving on the board.

2011 & 2012

$100,000 to archdiocesan Blue Ribbon Commission formed to determine the future of Catholic education


Decade total more than $6 million to archdiocese for secondary, elementary, and special education schools

2012 - 2017

First grants to additional schools dedicated to low-income or underserved populations: Independence Mission Schools (and St. Malachy School and St. Veronica School individually), Gesu School, Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, St. Francis de Sales School, Hope Partnership for Education, Providence Center


First grants to Vocation Office for Archdiocesan Priesthood and to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary

2014 - 2016

Three grants supporting the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia 2015

2016 - 2018

First grants to Temple University, West Chester University, and Widener University for Newman Center start-ups, operations, and/or FOCUS Teams