We write often about the faithful backers of charter schools and advocacy organizations. This swath of funders believes that these outfits are key to reforming broken education systems around the country. What we've written about less are those who focus on a different kind of school system— Catholic schools. I once examined the giving of Goldman Sachs veteran Thomas Healey, who steadily funds Catholic schools in the Northeast and is strongly interested in revamping them so that they might run more efficiently.
Others digging into this space include Boston area couple James and Lisa Mooney. James Mooney currently works for Seth Klarman's Baupost Group. But before he went on to much success in the business world, James was a political science major at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He credits this education for providing a solid foundation. As Mooney said at the 2015 Jesuit GALA, "My Jesuit education has had a profound effect on every aspect of my life. The way I engage with the world – whether with my family, in my career or through philanthropy – is built on a Jesuit foundation.”
Well, from a look at the grantmaking of the Mooney-Reed Charitable Foundation, the couple's charitable vehicle, this definitely is the case. The couple steadily supports Catholic organizations, particularly of the education variety, via their charity. Grantees have included Catholic Schools Foundation, Campaign for Catholic Schools, Nativity Preparatory School, and St. Sebastian's School.
The family has also lent strong support to College of the Holy Cross. Several years ago, the Mooneys gave a $1 million gift to College of Holy Cross to endow the Jim '90 and Lisa Mooney Scholarships targeting middle-class students from Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. Not only did James attend the school, but so did his father. James and his father also established The Joan Marie Mooney Scholarship Fund.
Outside of this grantmaking area, it's worth noting that the Mooneys are also strongly involved with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), which received an $800,000 grant via the family's foundation in a recent year. In Uganda, the couple has helped fund the Mbarara hospital’s pediatric malnutrition clinic and an emergency medical fund. MGH has strong ties with the hospital. The couple's son has visited the region, as has the family collectively. While the Boston area is still this family's priority, perhaps more international work will develop in the coming years.