The Martin de Porres Foundation was founded in 1948 by Matthew H. McCloskey, Jr, prominent Philadelphia builder and philanthropist. The first formal meeting of the incorporators and original members of the foundation took place January 29, 1949. Mr. McCloskey owned and operated a construction company headquartered at 1620 Thompson Street in North Philadelphia. The company was near the Church of the Gesu and not far from St. Elizabeth Church.
He became friendly with the pastor of St. Elizabeth Church, Msgr. Edward Cunnie, who recognized the need to develop black lay leadership in order to advance Catholicism in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Msgr. Cunnie thought the best way to accomplish this was through education. He asked Mr. McCloskey to assist some of the neighborhood children with scholarships. Initially McCloskey established six scholarships – three for boys and three for girls – to St. Joseph’s, LaSalle, and Villanova, and to Immaculata, Rosemont, and Chestnut Hill Colleges.
Through the years, the Martin de Porres Foundation has provided partial college scholarships to African American adults; has underwritten the cost of pursuing religious studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and subsidized many of the programs of the St. Peter Claver Center for Evangelization. Presently, a portion of the Foundation’s budget funds the Directors of Religious Education serving in the Urban Ministry parishes.
We applaud the original Martin de Porres scholars, all former scholarship recipients and present grant beneficiaries, the Administrators, Coordinators, and Directors of Religious Education who have served inner city parishes throughout the years.