A simple but great idea

In 1981, Tri-County Scholarship Fund was begun by two men with an inspired idea: that it is possible to materially and permanently improve the lives of the poorest of New Jersey’s inner-city children by providing them access to the superior and safer option of values-based private schools.

Since that time Tri-County has provided thousands of scholarships for many of New Jersey’s most financially disadvantaged children, enabling them to attend accredited K-12 private and parochial schools.  These children have gone on to college and productive careers, positively impacting their families and their communities. These remarkable results have been made possible through the support of many companies and individuals also seeking to make a difference in the lives of the inner-city children.


Tri-County has achieved success, but the job is not over. The fund will provide another 500 scholarships this year, but there are 2,000 children still on the waiting list. The parents of these children want nothing more than the  game-changing opportunity of a safe, high quality, values-based education.

While the need can be overwhelming, the recipe for results is as straightforward as it was at the beginning: the dedication and gratitude Tri-County students and families, joined with the commitment and support of Tri-County donors will bring opportunity to the lives and futures of these inner-city children.



As Bishop, Frank Rodimer knew that his parochial schools were attracting less and less students because poor parents couldn’t afford them. Then, as now, many potential students came from single parent families with an average income of less than $30,000, four mouths to feed and three children to clothe and educate. Then, as now, the urban public schools were failing them. Many students were not becoming proficient in reading, which lead to falling further and further behind in their studies. Many parents were actually afraid to send their children to school, as some of the urban high schools in New Jersey had been rated “persistently violent” by the NJ Education Authority.



Combining their talents, Ed Hennessey and Bishop Rodimer created the Tri-County Scholarship Fund. The Fund would exist to give financial scholarships to financially disadvantaged children in grades K-12 to go to accredited private and parochial schools.

They started the program with a fundraising dinner in 1981. As Ed likes to say: “the dinner cost me $50,000 and we brought in $45,000!” But it was a start, and suddenly many prominent business leaders knew about Tri-County, as it came to be called, and about the plight of young people who could not afford a good education. Ed and Bishop Rodimer lost no time in recruiting them to the board. Meanwhile, they visited the homes and families of many students.

There they met mothers and fathers who would forego a meal so that they could do their part in sending the children to the diocesan and parochial schools. And so, between the parents, the teachers and the business leaders, Tri-County took off.



Tri-County has achieved success, but the job is not over.  All parents desire the game-changing opportunity of a safe, quality, values-based education. While the need can be overwhelming, the recipe for results is as straightforward as it was at the beginning: the dedication and gratitude of Tri-County  families, joined with the commitment and support of donors, will bring opportunity and hope to these children.


Since 1981, some 200 business, educational and religious leaders have served on the board of Tri-County.  Each of them has been motivated by one compelling passion: to change the life trajectories of hundreds of children with the transformative power of a great education. They were always insistent about one thing: every school would be open to any child in need.  To this day, more than 30,000 scholarships have been awarded, worth more than 25 million dollars.

Why Tri County Today – and More than Ever

Today Tri-County helps 500 children each year. Tri-County students live in poor, urban areas where the public high school graduation rate hovers around 50%. Tri-County boasts a 98-100% graduation rate. Some of these alumni go to the local community colleges and then on to New Jersey’s excellent public universities. Most of them go straight to four year colleges, and many to top national universities. One alumnus was recently appointed assistant professor of pediatric medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

However, the sobering fact that for the 500 students that Tri-County can help each year, there are another 2000 qualifying students that Tri-County cannot support. Rather than simply accept this situation as unchangeable, the trustees of Tri-County have determined that this is simply a challenge to surmount, and that now is the time to take on the challenge.

How to Assure the Futures of More Children

By embarking on its first campaign, called A Seat in the Classroom, Tri-County hopes to add hundreds of children to the list of students who will thrive in grade school, excel in high school and go on to college.

We invite you to join with the dozens of other individuals and companies who have already committed to making a difference in the lives of these children.


The goal remains a simple one: to help our students in New Jersey’s inner cities to realize their God-given potential through the gift of a great education.  Please join us in creating a legacy that will last for generations to come.

Help give a child the gift of an education.

With your donation, students are given need-based scholarships to attend elementary and high schools where they are virtually guaranteed to graduate and then go on to college. You can make a transformative difference in their lives by contributing to the Tri-County Scholarship Fund. None of us can do everything but each of us can do something.