Foundation seeks to raise funds for Catholic education endowment
By Sue Schulzetenberg
In response to the increasing cost of education and decreasing number of students in Catholic schools, The Catholic Foundation is launching an initiative to boost enrollments and offer tuition support.
“Our hope is that any child who wants a Catholic education can have that opportunity,” said Alice Coudron, planned giving consultant for The Catholic Foundation.
The initiative, “Investing in Faith … For a Hopeful Future,” has a goal of raising $1 million for an endowment. Its other goals are to deepen awareness of the benefits of Catholic education and to increase enrollments.
Earnings from the endowment will be distributed as need-based scholarships for Catholic elementary school students in the St. Cloud Diocese.
“It’s meant to help folks at least consider Catholic education for their children,” said George Sjogren, executive director of The Catholic Foundation.
Since 2000, enrollment in Catholic schools in the St. Cloud Diocese has dropped by more than 1,000 students, and 10 Catholic schools have closed or merged. Concerned for the future of Catholic schools, a focus group of principals, parents, diocesan Catholic Education Ministries representatives, foundation employees and Father Robert Rolfes, then chancellor and currently vicar general, met in 2009 to address the issue.
The scholarship initiative was one of the focus group’s ideas. A committee of parents, Catholic school alums, educators and foundation employees came together in 2010 to plan the “Investing in Faith … For a Hopeful Future” initiative. The committee continues to meet.The Catholic Foundation has raised about $10,000 for the initiative so far.
Coudron estimates that it will take three to five years to raise $1 million.“It’s a work in progress,” she said.
The foundation is in the process of meeting with donors. When invited, foundation staff members speak at parishes without Catholic schools. It has produced a brochure and DVD to explain the initiative. “Parishes with Catholic schools are already doing many fundraisers and scholarships,” Coudron said.
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said, ‘The burden of supporting our Catholic schools can no longer be placed exclusively on the individual parishes that have schools and on parents who pay tuition. This will require all Catholics, including those in parishes without schools, to focus on the spirituality of stewardship.’ ”
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