Catholic faith teaches love, devotion, and so many life-altering lessons that help to build strong character. Among the most significant of these is kindness, and with it the importance of giving back.

Children learn these lessons early, to live out these values in their youth and as they grow. However, it is not always easy to teach students that they have the power to help others even at their young age, before they grow up.

There are Catholic faith communities all across America that don’t have the same resources as wealthier areas—children who are in need of reliable supplies, educators, and support system.

The Make Your Dollar Grow program teaches students that they can help these communities and children, such as this child at a Catholic camp for deaf and blind children. The camp was immensely helped by students in the Make Your Dollar Grow program in 2008.

The program is administered by Catholic Extension. As a non-profit that was founded in 1905, our mission is to build up vibrant and transformative Catholic faith communities in the the poorest regions in the United States.

We rely on generous donors to support this mission—including students whose help has already made an amazing impact.

Several years ago, Clare D’Agostino, the coordinator of religious education at the Frances Xavier Warde School in Chicago, heard a message from Catholic Extension’s president, Father Jack Wall.

He told the students to “Be kind to others, and find a way to help.”

She came up with an idea—to show students that they can use their own talents and creativity to help those in need. She created the Make Your Dollar Grow program.

The program is based on the parable “The Ten Coins,” which teaches students the importance of optimizing what they are given.

“[Jesus] said therefore, ‘A nobleman went into a far country to receive kingly power and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Trade with these till I come.’”

—Luke 19:12–13

Just like in the parable, students are given a dollar and told to make it grow.

They get to work. Students have done chores, participated in bakes sales, or sold artwork to grow their dollar and give back.

The program has been a great success. Students have helped religious education programs in rural areas, ministries run by women religious, and even to build churches. Their inspiring work does not go unnoticed, with stories of the program being picked up by local and national news outlets.

Catholic News Service: First-graders make their treasure grow to serve other children in need

WGN News: Students’ work for pocket change to create meaningful change for kids across the county

Grateful communities and children share their thanks with the hardworking students. This banner was created by children living on a Native American reservation in Montana.

The lesson that the students learn is remarkable. As one parent said:

“He sees the world differently, and it’s just nice to be able to know that, especially the school, that they’re raising good kids, not just smart kids.”

 —Parent of Make Your Dollar Grow student participant

Learn more about how Catholic Extension is expanding the Make Your Dollar Grow program.