Leaven Blog

Best bang for your buck – the Catholic Education Foundation

by Jill Ragar Esfeld

It’s the first question asked by people interested in sharing their material blessings with those in need — where can I get the best bang for my buck?

In other words, everyone wants to be charitable, but struggles with that question of where donations will have the greatest impact.

My long association with the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) — as a reporter and as a supporter — puts me in a unique position to tell you this charity really does use its funds efficiently, and carefully, to change the world in a most significant way.

The Catholic Education Foundation provides children living in poverty with scholarships to attend Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

This year, CEF will provide scholarships for more than 1,400 students.

That’s 1,400 disadvantaged children who had little hope for their futures, now with their eyes on college and a real chance to exit the cycle of poverty that plagues their neighborhoods.

Can there be any better way to change the world?

Each year, in preparation for Gaudeamus, the main fundraising event for CEF, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, along with CEF Board members, visits a CEF school.

I’m the reporter who tags along, and what I see at the school every year is the reason I’m also a CEF supporter.

This year’s school was Resurrection Catholic School at the Cathedral, in the heart of Kansas, City Kansas.

Seventy-six percent of Resurrection students are eligible for federal free or reduced lunch, and with students from Mexico, Croatia, and Myanmar/Burma, over half speak a language other than English at home.

The financial support Resurrection receives from CEF is vital to the success of the school and these students.

As Principal Lynda Higgins led our group through various classrooms, one couldn’t help but be impressed with the bright faces in neat uniforms anxious to greet us.

As always, it was fun to see the archbishop interact with the children — playfully answering their questions about his height, favorite candy, and favorite sport.

And it was moving to watch him interact more seriously as he explained to third-graders why he became a priest, and talked to eighth-graders about their upcoming confirmation.

But most of all, it was heartening to see children who have very difficult lives getting an opportunity every day to be in a disciplined but loving and faith-filled environment, receiving a quality education.

I have never felt so much hope for the future.

The Gaudeamus fundraiser is Oct. 21 this year. Single tickets are still available.

If you can’t attend the event, consider making a contribution to CEF. Catholic families living in poverty need your help; there are still 454 children on the waiting list for a scholarship to Catholic school!

For more information, click here.

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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