Students from Christ the King Catholic School in Kansas City, Kansas, strike a masked pose during recess.
It’s been a year unlike any other. One where parents became teachers and teachers became superheroes. Where administrators kept high-quality education and faith formation at the forefront while navigating shutdowns and local health guidelines. Where Catholic schools became food banks, resource centers, and places of refuge in their communities.
Bishop Ward Catholic High School was one of many local schools offering free to-go meals for children in their local community when schools closed down last spring.
But during this year of complications, joy triumphed throughout our Catholic schools. Children celebrated the return to classrooms, teachers found new ways to bring their lessons to life, and school and family communities came together to support members in need. When many families on the poverty line found themselves unable to meet their tuition obligations this spring, the support of donors helped CEF provide emergency assistance scholarships to keep their children in Catholic schools. When students from local districts were met with closed doors this fall, many struggling families reached out to our Catholic schools, determined to find a way to make education a priority. CEF scholarships helped our schools meet the new need these incoming students presented, along with additional requests from within their existing communities.
As the new semester begins, low-income families are finding the support and community of Catholic education more vital than ever, while for many, the long-term financial strain of the pandemic is placing tuition payments even further out of reach. CEF schools have received dozens of new requests from families in need. But while the past nine months have brought new challenges to many of the students we serve, they've also brought a new resolve to many CEF supporters.
"It's an investment with the greatest possible return," said Andrew Eilert, whose family has supported CEF scholarships for years. "More than providing young minds with strong education for success in this life, the gift of a Catholic education also guides young souls on their path to eternal life."
Students at St. Matthew Catholic School in Topeka, Kansas joined together this fall for a socially-distanced Rosary in the school's parking lot.
"The educational and personal support is often life-changing," noted Andrew's wife, Stephanie. Her sentiments echoed those of Cardinal Dolan from earlier this summer: “No institution in the country is as successful in moving children from poverty to middle-class as Catholic schools.”
These claims ring true in our students' successes year after year. CEF scholarship students achieve a 99% graduation rate, compared to 77% in neighboring high schools. Nearly 97% of our high school graduates go on to college or career educational training, compared with 45% of their peers in other schools.
To longtime CEF supporter Darren Lovick, who served as this year's Gaudeamus committee chair with his wife Janet, their support goes well beyond the classroom walls. "The fruit of this gift impacts not only the child," he said, "but also their family, school, and community."
From entire families embracing the Catholic faith inspired by the Catholic school experience of their child, to the incredible average financial impact a CEF graduate will make on their local community, many of these fruits will change lives for generations to come.
If you'd like to give the gift of hope to a local family in need this semester, you can visit cefks.org/donate to contribute to our scholarship fund today.
2021 70% Kansas Income Tax Credits for qualified scholarship donations are available for a limited time. Learn more.
Why do CEF donors choose to make CEF's mission their own? Hear it from them in the video below.