Swing For Hope – 17th Annual Bishop’s Golf Classic

Gifting students with education and future success

By Alison Elsner

Education is often the key that opens the door to empowerment, self-confidence and success. It’s troubling to many that quality learning programs can be prohibitive in cost, resulting in restricted access and opportunity for some young people, through no fault of their own.

Thankfully, the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) of the Archdiocese of San Bernardino has been active in bringing about the reality of a quality education to deserving families and kids. As a 501 (c) (3), the organization’s vision is that “every child has access to a Catholic education with a mission of raising sufficient funds to support Catholic education and make Catholic schools accessible by all.”

One of the CEF’s signature events is their “Swing for Hope” Bishop’s Golf Classic, the 17th annual which will be held on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at PGA West in La Quinta, California on the Nicklaus Tournament Course and the TPC Stadium Course. Registration and the practice range open at 9 a.m. with the on-course action beginning at 10:30 a.m. with a shotgun start, best ball scramble. A reception and silent auction will begin at 3:30 p.m. followed by a dinner at 5 p.m., all at the scenic, private PGA West Clubhouse. Silent auction items will feature golf outings, cigar and whiskey samplers, restaurant gift cards, electronics and many others, ranging in value from $100 to $500.

Close to 240 golfers and guests are expected to participate this year, and each golfer receives a polo style shirt and a hat to commemorate the Tournament. The fee is $500 per person to golf or $50 per person to attend the dinner only. Sponsorships begin at $250 with Tee Sponsors and climb all the way to $25,000 for Platinum Sponsors with several tiers available in between. Citizen’s Business Bank has stepped up to serve as a Platinum Sponsor, with Fullerton, Lemann, Schaefer & Dominick LLP involved at the Gold Sponsor Level and Redlands Ford taking part at the Silver Sponsor level. To learn more about sponsorships or to register to play, call 909-475-5437 or email

According to Austin Conley, III, CEF’s Director of Advancement for the past eight years, the Bishop’s Golf Classic has given many Inland Empire families the chance to broaden their children’s horizons through Catholic school education made affordable. Over the past 16 years, the tournament has raised well over $1.6 million dollars, vital funds which directly benefit individual schools and the Catholic Schools Endowment and Emergency funds supporting elementary and high school students. Last year alone, the event brought in $384,000. CEF is designed to breathe new life into struggling Catholic schools by directing scholarship funding to low-income students, many of whom go on to successfully graduate high school and advance into colleges and universities.

The primary criteria for being awarded tuition assistance is need. Families apply for aid in March of each year, to take effect during the following school year. Nearly all of the families receiving assistance live below the poverty line, which, for a family of four, is $25,100 in annual income. During the 2017-18 school year, tuition aid translated into direct help for 68 families or $4,000,000. With over 400 applications for scholarships last year, however, it’s clear to see why the Golf Tournament is critical to the continued ability of CEF to carry out its mission.

Awards are reviewed and considered by a funding committee of nine individuals, consisting of school principals, diocese financial representatives and other school officials. There are five Trustees who support and govern the direction and outreach of CEF, acting with limited jurisdiction, including Michael Vanderpool, Charlie Johnson, Dr. Anne Cipta, Very Reverend Monsignor Gerard Lopez and Reverend Michael Sturn.

Conley reminds us that it was over 200 years ago when Sister Elizabeth Ann Seton, the foundress of Catholic schools in America and the first American canonized saint, opened Catholic schools to serve the Church, with an emphasis upon disadvantaged populations. Today, Catholic schools are a demonstrated way to reverse the cycle of poverty and bridge the achievement gap, while continuing to serve the Church and local communities.

To make a donation, please contact Austin Conley, III at or mail checks to: Diocese of San Bernardino Office of Catholic Schools, 1201 E. Highland Avenue San Bernardino, CA  92404.  For more information, please visit



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