Thanks to a $2-million grant from the Malone Family Foundation, Columbus Academy will be able to provide additional financial aid to struggling families.

Thanks to a $2-million grant from the Malone Family Foundation, Columbus Academy will be able to provide additional financial aid to struggling families.

The Gahanna-based school, which serves students from all over central Ohio, is the first school in the state to receive the funding. Columbus Academy is one of only three schools in the country to be awarded a Malone scholarship this year.

"They are only looking for states that haven't been represented at this point," said Bob Lee, communications director for the school. "It may be a long time before Ohio is considered for the award again. We feel very fortunate."

The $2-million will be added to Academy's endowment, from which $1.7-million was used for need-based financial aid in the 2009-10 school year. About 16 percent of the student body - 171 pupils - received aid.

Lee said the estimated $100,000 of interest from the Malone grant would be used for additional need-based scholarships next school year.

"The Malone Family Foundation's ultimate goal is to provide an outstanding education to every young student who is among the top 5 percent of their class and who displays the keen desire and motivation to learn, yet lacks the resources to finance such an education," said Cathie Wlaschin, Malone Family Foundation executive director. "We are very pleased to partner with Columbus Academy in this journey and look forward to changing the lives of very deserving students.

"What particularly impressed us about the Academy was the school's enthusiastic and empathetic students; a faculty and administration that stretch themselves to make a difference in every student's experiences; a solid commitment to financial aid; and, of course, an impressive track record of academic excellence."

The Malone Family Foundation is a national organization founded in 1997 to improve access to private education for students in need of financial aid. According to the foundation, only 31 schools have received grants since the program began awarding scholarships in 2000.

John Wuorinen, director of admissions and financial aid for Columbus Academy, said the grant will allow the school to increase its diversity and allow more students access to an education at the private school.

He said the district strives for racial and socioeconomic diversity. Students from 50 different zip codes in central Ohio attend the school.

"Our goal, in the case of financial aid, is to be able to make an Academy education accessible to as many qualified students as we can," Wuorinen said. "The Malone grant really ends up helping us with that quest. The family foundation has given us a huge vote of confidence."

As part of the grant, Wuorinen said, the school is required to draw upon 5 percent of the grant each year for need-based aid.

The money will be used to give scholarships to high school students, though some scholarships would be awarded to seventh- and eighth-graders.

"It's a great opportunity for the school to reach out and help more students attend school," Wuorinen said.