Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Tampa Bay Lightning


by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
Lightning Foundation Grant Story Archive:
A Ray Of Hope From The Sunshine Project
SERVE Volunteers In Education
St. Peter Claver Catholic Scholarship Fund
Tampa Bay SLED Hockey Program
Everyday Blessings For Foster Children
The Spring Of Tampa Bay, Where Family Abuse Ends
A Gift For Teaching
Salesian Youth Center
Connected By 25

On Wednesday, May 31 the Lightning Foundation, charitable arm of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum, presented nine financial grants to charities in the Tampa Bay community totaling more than $70,000. Marking the first time in its history that the foundation has conducted a grant program, the event signaled the evolution and continued growth of the Lightning Foundation which aims to be a leader in Tampa Bay, helping to make our community a better place to live, work and play.

Below is the third of nine features that will run weekdays on, detailing each program that received a grant and why it was selected by the Lightning Foundation's Board of Directors. For more information on each program or to learn how you can help please look for the link at the end of the story.

St. Peter Claver Catholic School Scholarship Fund

When two lucky students walk through the doors of St. Peter Claver Catholic to begin the 2006-07 school year they will have the Lightning Foundation to thank for an opportunity they otherwise would not have. The Foundation awarded one of its nine grants to the school's Tuition Scholarship Fund to allow a pair of underprivileged children the chance to attend the school.

St. Peter Claver Catholic School is the oldest predominantly African-American school in the state of Florida. It was founded in 1894 and is located in one of Tampa's poorest and most troubled neighborhoods. The school offers children and families the opportunity to choose an education that fosters Christian values and service to others.

The private school offers classes from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade and has approximately 125 students per year. The Roman Catholic school is open 180 days a year and is co-ed, and it offers one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios in the state. Claver's ratio of eight students to each teacher is nine points lower than the state average of 17.

"The Lightning Foundation is all about building relationships and reaching out to their dear neighbors," St. Peter Claver Catholic Principal Sister Catherine Bitzer said. "This year St. Peter Claver School experienced such a relationship with the wonderful members of the Foundation as the Foundation granted $5,000 for student scholarships.

"The Foundation is touching the lives of children and enabling them access to a strong educational institution, St. Peter Claver. Together we are working to build a better Tampa Bay Community."

This isn't the Lightning's first contact with the St. Pete Claver, located near Central Park Village and downtown Tampa. Lightning Foundation Executive Director Nancy Crane once taught at the school and was so impressed that she would continue involvement with the school once she took her current position with the Lightning.

"When I taught for the Mendez Foundation I had the opportunity to teach drug education for 16 weeks at St. Peter Claver," Crane said. "I never forgot that experience or the students I taught that semester.

"St. Peter Claver has served African-American youth in grades K-8 since 1894. Students are proud of their heritage and well educated about the history of their school. They are respectful, loving and well-disciplined, while being challenged by a creative and devoted faculty. St. Peter Claver is truly a treasure that has served Tampa for over 100 years."

That involvement hit a high-point when the Lightning Foundation sponsored a celebration of the history of the school as well as Black History Month with a program titled "Facing the Rising Sun for the Next Century". Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, President of Bennett College and a longtime leader in the African-American community, served as the key-note speaker for the event which was open to students, alumni, parents and other special guests. Cole was brought to the event by the Lightning Foundation and her son, David Cole, who is the Lightning's Director of Fan Development. Following Johnetta Cole's speech a historical marker celebrating the school's rich history was also unveiled.

With help from the Lightning Foundation Grant Program two students that otherwise would not have had the chance will have an opportunity to take in the lush history at St. Peter Claver Catholic School for the 2006-07 school year. For more information regarding the school or any of its programs call 813.224.0865.
View More