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 provide financial support and assistance to Catholic schools operating within the archdiocese, organizations and institutions supporting Catholic education in the archdiocese, and programs designed to broaden and deepen Catholicism within the archdiocese.


The Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education 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 the Archdiocesan Educational Fund in 1967 with a gift of $500,000 and 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.

The Archdiocesan Educational Fund transitioned to the Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education by  unanimous vote of the Board of Directors in February 2020. The current board consists of two clergy and 11 laity.


The Ambassador's Fund 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 - 2015

Inviting new

Fund directors begin fifth decade with substantial financial support for central education office operations, increased attention on diverse and special needs student populations, and strategic initiatives associated with archdiocesan education. Three of Matthew, Jr.’s great-grandsons — Andrew, Brian, Sean — join their father in concurrently serving on the board.


Decade total more than $13 million to archdiocesan education operations and selected schools.


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


First grants to Independence Mission Schools for low-income and underserved populations, and at St. Malachy School and St. Veronica School individually as well as continuing grants to similar populations at Drexel Neumann Academy. First grants to Vocation Office for Archdiocesan Priesthood and to Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary for vocation education and outreach.


World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia 2015 awarded two grants and an additional grant in 2015-16.

2015 -2018

New competitive proposal process, guidelines, and criteria introduced, beginning with grants awarded for funding in 2015-16.


Grants to Gesu School, Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, St. Francis de Sales School, Hope Partnership for Education, Providence Center, and IMS continue to address education needs of underserved students, while grants begin for Latino-Hispanic education outreach and to Catholic Leadership Institute for parish renewal initiatives.


Multiple infrastructure, operations, and faculty professional development grants to the Office of Catholic Education join funding for elementary-to-high school summer bridge programming.


Sixth decade begins with broader base of grant applicants and greater dimension to funded programs and projects. Fund transitions to new name.

2019 & 2020

Ryan Neff elected to the board, serving with his grandfather and three uncles (February 2019). Board of Directors votes to change the charitable organization’s name to Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education (February 2020).


Grant “firsts” awarded for Newman Center/FOCUS Missionary programming at two additional universities, career and technical education, PreK-8 and secondary school STEM/STEAM/STREAM programming, catechetical instruction for K-12 religion teachers, flexible student seating, and vocation education programming for a community of women religious. Funding extended to Catholic private schools and colleges.


Funding for innovative arts, STEM, and social emotional learning proceeds, while special funding addresses COVID-19-prompted needs: grants awarded to qualified suburban schools for tuition relief for eligible families, and for rolling Plexiglas screens to increase classroom safety of teachers and students.