Largest-Ever Gift Brings Cathedral Near Campaign Goal

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The new Innovation Center is expected to cost $12 million. (rendering courtesy of Cathedral High School) The new Innovation Center is expected to cost $12 million. (rendering courtesy of Cathedral High School)

Cathedral High School in Indianapolis says a $2.5 million gift will lead to the construction of a new Innovation Center. Michael Browning, chairman of the board at Indianapolis-based Browning Investments LLC, and his sons Michael and Christian made the donation, which is the largest single gift in the school's history. Cathedral says the gift brings the school just shy of the $25 million goal in its Centennial Campaign and allows the school to break ground on the $12 million facility.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Cathedral President Rob Bridges said the Innovation Center will help the school adjust to a changing education landscape.

"Kids are different today. That's the bottom line. They learn differently and we are accepting that and also realizing that we have to educate them in a different way," said Bridges. "The way they learn, having the cell phones and technology just hard wired into their very core from birth, we have to do things differently and open spaces, working in groups, having a teacher maybe sitting amongst the students rather than at the head of the students, that's really hard to do in the old 24x24 square classroom."

The Centennial Campaign was launched in September. Cathedral says it has reached $24.6 million toward the $25 million goal, which it hoped to achieve by June. The gift from the Browning family was fueled by the December sale of Indy-based tech company MOBI, which was co-founded by Michael Browning II and Christian Browning, among others. 

Bridges says, with the help of the gift, the Innovation Center will put the school way ahead of where it currently is in providing for the needs of students, specifically in the STEM-related areas. "We still have the same cinder block school that we've had forever that a lot of schools have had that are really wonderful and traditional but don't really lend themselves to the way that things are being taught and learned today."

Bridges says the Innovation Center project is currently in the design phase. The school hopes to break ground on the project early next year and have it open by the fall of 2021.

Cathedral said in September, in addition to the Innovation Center, the campaign will also fund growth in the school's endowment to support tuition assistance and teacher compensation, as well as an initiative to transform Brunette Park and enhance the city's east side.

Bridges says the Innovation Center will help the school adjust to a changing education landscape.
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