Great Ignatian Challenge: Jesuit Schools Raise Scholarships and Food Donations

Tags: Catholic Community, Catholic Education, Education, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Jesuit, Manhattan

By Emily Drooby

With a few small steps, student Annie Kinnally is making a major impact, helping to lead her school to victory as a coordinator in the Great Ignatian Challenge. 

For the challenge — named after Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuit order — students collect food to be donated to a local pantry, competing against other schools to raise the most per student. In exchange, they win scholarship money for their school. 

It takes place among seven Jesuit schools in New York, Connecticut, NewJersey and Pennsylvania. 

Manhattan’s Loyola School — where Annie is a student —won, despite being the smallest in the competition.

“It feels great we all worked so hard for it,”  she said. “It brought the student body together. We all had the same goal of getting the most food, and we did it.”

“It’s amazing,” said Tony Oroszlany, president of the school. “You have two sides: you’re helping those with most need in one area, but then in the second area it’s helping those with most needs as well.” 

The impact is far reaching: just this year the Great Ignatian Challenge collected over 135,000 pounds of food and over 350,000 dollars in scholarships. 

As the winning school, Loyola received over 100,000 dollars, but no school walked away with less than 25,000 dollars.  

Jim Rowen, COO of Renaissance Technologies, is the competition’s main donor. As a product of Jesuit schools himself, he’s given a quarter of a million dollars to the program this year.

“Having his name associated with the challenge is very important because that is what he instructed his disciples, his followers to do,” Jim said of St. Ignatius of Loyola. “Don’t look inward, look outward. Support the community.”

It takes place among seven jesuit schools in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

Xavier High School in Manhattan is also among the competition participants. 

“We have all these rivalries between the schools,” explained Xavier student Jadyn Trujillo.  “We play them in sports, we do all these things. But when it comes to a similar goal which is like a mission of helping all in need, that’s when we can come together as Jesuit schools.” 

Through the Great Ignatian Challenge, students are living out the jesuit values they’re taught in school.  

“We live in one of the greatest cities in the world, but there’s so many people that need help,” added classmate Matthew Rogers. “I see people, and I see people walk right by them. To know that I’m helping out those people feels great.”

Jim hopes to continue to grow the program by adding schools in Manhattan.