Our History

The Madonna Foundation

The Madonna Foundation, established in 2001 by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, is a public charity that increases access for young women to attend Catholic high schools in the Chicago area. The Foundation is the only one of its kind in the region focusing exclusively on serving young women with scholarship support and programing. The Madonna Foundation annually awards tuition grants to young women who demonstrate financial need and the potential for academic achievement. Financial support averages $2,700 per year. In many cases, without the Foundation’s scholarships, these young women would not be able to attend Catholic School.

In addition to tuition grants, the Foundation provides college and career readiness seminars; leadership and empowerment workshops; spiritual retreats; service -learning opportunities, and one-to-one tutoring support through a variety of dynamic and innovative programs. Our programing provides young women the tools necessary to have a well-rounded education and success in high school, college, and careers. Our scholars build meaningful, productive and successful lives and will be the next generation of educated and compassionate leaders.

The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago formed The Madonna Foundation to carry on their legacy of educating young women in the Catholic tradition of excellence. The Foundation educates the whole person by instilling the Franciscan values of Respect, Dedication, Stewardship and Joy.

Any applicant meeting our financial requirements and applying to one of our five partnering high schools will be eligible to apply. Our financial requirements for eligibility are $15,000 or less per person per year in the family (for example, a family of 4 with a total income of 60,000 or less would be eligible).

The young women selected to receive the scholarship and to participate in the program are proudly referred to as “Madonna Scholars.”

Madonna High School

The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago opened Madonna High School in 1949 at the corner of Belmont and Pulaski. The school’s mission was to provide high quality Catholic secondary education to young urban women. For more than 50 years, Madonna High School kept this mission alive, at one time serving as many as 1,200 students. Unfortunately, due to declining enrollment and the economic pressures on private city schools, Madonna High School was forced to close its doors. Upon the closure of the school, the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago formed the Madonna Foundation to carry on the legacy and mission of Madonna High School. The Foundation represents all the best of Madonna High School’s proud traditions.

The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago

In 1881 Chicago welcomed a young woman, Josephine Dudzik, and her family who had emigrated from Poland. They settled in the city’s vibrant, northwest side. A generous, compassionate and devout woman, Josephine was moved by the condition of the aged, poor, abandoned and orphaned who she encountered in her neighborhood and felt called to come to the aid of these people in need. Therefore, on December 8, 1894 she formed the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago and Josephine took the name Sister Mary Theresa.

ROOTED in the Gospel,
UNITED in prayer and community,
WE SHARE Franciscan joy
AND SERVE generously.

Mission Statement of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago

Following the leadership of Mother Mary Theresa, since 1898 the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago have responded to the needs of God’s people and have served in various ministries: the care and housing of the elderly and sick; the operation of child care centers; teaching in elementary and secondary schools and universities; pastoral care; social service work; addressing the needs of financially disadvantaged high school girls in the Chicago area, and sheltering victims of domestic violence.

Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik’s ministries and mission to help those in need remain and are continued through Franciscan Ministries, Sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago located in Lemont, Illinois. The Madonna Foundation is one of their ministries and is close to the hearts of the sisters.

I felt the misery and suffering of others, and it seemed to me that I could not love Jesus, or even expect heaven if I were concerned only about myself… Consequently, I was constantly occupied with the thought of how I could be of service to the needy and the poor.

Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik