by Joe Bollig
OVERLAND PARK — Want a tip about one of the hottest returns on investment around? Here it is: CEF.
That’s the Catholic Education Foundation, specifically, CEF scholarships.
CEF scholarships make it possible for more than 1,770 students to have a Catholic education and produce nearly incalculable benefits to individual students, their families, their schools and communities.
The benefits of CEF scholarships are both temporal and spiritual.
“Students at Catholic schools are more well-rounded intellectually and spiritually,” said Vince Anch, CEF executive director. “Our Catholic schools are teaching and building the whole person, not just academically. It’s something public schools can’t offer. Our kids can pray freely and don’t have to hide their faith. CEF scholarships help them flourish spiritually.”
On April 14, officials of the CEF presented a $4 million check of scholarship funds to Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann during a luncheon at Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Overland Park.
The event was attended by school principals, superintendent of Catholic schools Vince Cascone, CEF officials and CEF donors and supporters.
The day began with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Naumann at Queen of the Holy Rosary, followed by the check presentation and a luncheon. Participants toured Pope John Paul II School and also Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas.
“We did a special tour of a couple of our schools to show CEF donors and supporters the impact of their CEF scholarship donations and give them an opportunity to see our schools in action,” said Anch. “It’s a neat way to show them our mission and bring it to life.”
Last year the scholarship check of $3.4 million broke the record, and the $4 million given this year (to be distributed for the coming academic year) breaks the record again.
“We have to give more scholarships and raise more funds to match the demand for scholarships,” said Anch. “The demand is increasing, in part, because of the economy. More people are struggling financially. Additionally, we’re seeing more interest than we’ve had in many years from current public school families inquiring about Catholic schools.”
Last year more than 1,770 students needed CEF scholarships, which are based on financial need. Anch anticipates that next year an additional 150 to 200 students will need financial help to attend Catholic schools.
“We have waiting lists now for next school year and we anticipate we will grow our fundraising to match that need,” said Anch. “By the grace of God, we have been able to do it every year when there’s been a need. We haven’t turned anybody away yet, and we don’t want to turn anyone away.”
On average, 40% of students at CEF schools qualify for free or reduced lunch although the percentage at some schools rises to 90%. In the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, 25 of the 43 archdiocesan schools qualify as CEF schools. Two schools were added to the CEF list this year. Without the scholarships, not only would some students not be able to attend a Catholic school, but some schools would close, said Anch.
For more information, go online to: cefks.org.