Education & Youth

In the early 1990s, when Camden had the worst public school systems in the U.S., Father Michael Doyle inspired Pepe Piperno to get involved with Camden’s Catholic schools by sponsoring a student. Given a stack of photos and the opportunity to pick one child, Pepe took the whole class. That first class graduated 8th grade in 2006. So began the Domenica Scholars program.

Now as then, most children attending Catholic schools do not come from Catholic families. They do come from families who want them to get a rigorous education in a safe and supportive environment.

“Once they graduate high school, kids have plenty of scholarships available for college,” said Pepe. “But someone needs to help them get to that point. That’s why we concentrate on high school scholarships.” Since the program began in 2006, 300 Domenica Scholars have graduated from high school.

We currently offer up to 25 Domenica Scholarships every year to 8th grade students who show excellent potential and demonstrate financial need. Scholarships continue for all four years of high school unless students fail to meet academic standards.

Four South Jersey & Philadelphia region schools participate: Camden Catholic High School, Paul VI High School, Gloucester Catholic High School, and Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School. Eighth-grade students bound for one of these high schools apply through Catholic Partnership Schools.

Domenica Scholars have an impressive record of achievement. The class of 2020 is an example: The high school graduation rate is 100%, as compared to only 67% for Camden as a whole. All 17 members of the Domenica Scholars class of 2020 were accepted into college.

Domenica Scholars have gone on to receive scholarships to prestigious universities, including Ivy League colleges. Others have stayed local while still amassing impressive academic credentials. Scholars from early years are now practicing as doctors and other healthcare professionals, lawyers, social workers, teachers, entrepreneurs, financial professionals, and many others.

From Domenica Scholar to Law Student



Arlette Lebya is on her way to becoming a lawyer thanks to a Domenica Foundation scholarship awarded in 2008.

Arlette graduated from Camden Catholic in 2013 on the strength of her four-year scholarship. Every year, we award up to 25 scholarships to enable promising 8th grade students to attend one of four local Catholic high schools.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Arlette enrolled in Rutgers Camden School of Law. Now in her third year of law school, Arlette has had a distinguished early career. She works part-time at the Camden Center for Law and Social Justice and serves as vice chair for online education and programming for the East Coast for the Hispanic National Bar Association, Law Student Division.

“I want to thank the Domenica Foundation for believing in me and building me up,” she said. “My high school education is what made me who I am today. It set me up for success, and it taught me to serve others. I wouldn’t have come as far as I have today without the foundation’s help.”

Besides her law school work and service, Arlette also is on the board of directors of Holy Name of Camden Ministries, which she sees as “a chance to give back to my community after I’ve gained so much!”

More than 300 students have benefitted from Domenica Foundation scholarships since they were first awarded in 2006. That’s 300 students who are closer to being able to achieve their dreams because they start with a high-quality high school education.

Education & Youth


Housing and homelessness

Community Development

Children and teens deserve a high-quality education and opportunities to develop their interests and strengths.
No one, adult or child, should ever go hungry.
Everyone deserves a safe, affordable, and comfortable place to live.
Strong community organizations develop strong neighborhoods where residents can thrive.