Sisters Academy of Baltimore, a Catholic middle school in Lansdowne, is honoring Mary Catherine Bunting on Friday afternoon for her $1 million gift toward the school's endowment campaign.
The recognition for Bunting, a former nun and retired nurse practitioner, will take place during the all-girls school's annual Sponsor Appreciation Day.
The 70-student academy does not charge tuition. Instead, families pay a monthly fee (currently $30, according to the school's website) and pledge to be involved in the school community. Costs are fronted by a growing endowment and a group of sponsors that makes four-year commitments of $6,000 to individual students receiving their education at the school.
The one-time gift from Bunting, whose grandfather, Dr. George Avery Bunting, founded the Noxzema Chemical Co., is the largest-single donation the school has received in its 14-year history, according to school president Sister Delia Dowling.
"This gift is really just transformational in terms of the school," Dowling said. "It shows such confidence in what we're doing."
The school is in the midst of a campaign called "Now More Than Ever" to grow its endowment to $5 million, a task Dowling estimates will be completed within a year and a half.
The endowment is for the purposes of establishing scholarships, supporting faculty and graduates, allowing the school to develop its curriculum and increasing enrollment while maintaining small class sizes.
The Bunting gift allows for the creation of four scholarships "in perpetuity," according to the school.
"We have worked at [growing] it," Dowling said of the endowment. "Right now, we are embarking on a real campaign because we think now is the time to do this, for our school and our community."
Bunting, who has supported the school since its inception in the early 2000s, will be recognized at 3 p.m. Friday after about an hour of various activities planned between students and their sponsors.
Some of the younger girls will be focusing on art, literacy and science projects and discussions while they meet with their sponsors, Dowling said. The eighth-graders are putting together a video presentation to show their sponsors.
"We're always excited to have our sponsors visit," Dowling said.
Bunting's family has made significant charitable donations to causes around Baltimore for years, including money for Mercy Hospital to build the Mary Catherine Bunting Center, which houses the system's main hospital in central Baltimore.