CEF assists a record number of students

Students in a music class at St. James School listened as their teacher gave them instructions for the day’s work. Nine out of 10 students at St. James, located in the Highlands, are recipients of tuition assistance from the Catholic Education Foundation. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

The Catholic Education Foundation is again providing a record amount of tuition assistance to a record number of students in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The foundation announced Sept. 14 that it awarded tuition assistance to 3,700 students for a total of $8 million in aid. That is up from 3,600 students receiving $7.7 million in aid last school year, according to a press release from the CEF.

“Anytime you think you can’t do more or raise enough money, we do by the Grace of God,” said Richard Lechleiter, president of the foundation. “That’s a lot of generosity from a lot of people.”

Lechleiter said the CEF has been asking the question “What can we do to make the Louisville community better?” The answer is “Send kids to Catholic school,” he said.

“Our schools have such an incredible history. Allowing more kids this gift will make this a better community,” he said.

For the ninth year in a row, the CEF has awarded tuition assistance to every family that applied and demonstrated need, said Lechleiter, adding, “I never thought that was possible.”

Each year, the number of students assisted and the amount of aid provided has surpassed the previous record, and that’s giving parents the confidence to send their kids to Catholic schools, he said. 

Parents enrolling their children in kindergarten can have confidence knowing they will keep receiving assistance as long as they demonstrate a need, he said, adding, “Being able to say yes and mean that, it’s empowering to families.” 

Tuition assistance is also empowering schools, said Lechleiter, having a “really profound impact on some areas, even allowing schools to keep operating.” 

St. James School in the Highlands receives tuition aid for nine out of 10 students, according to the CEF. And approximately, six out of 10 students at St. Rita, seven out of 10 at St. Nicholas Academy and eight out of 10 at St. Andrew School receive aid, too. 

“Our mission is to continue to allow those schools to thrive and grow. We need to be there for some of those communities that may lack resources,” he said.

Lechleiter said he and the people who work on behalf of the CEF take their “hats off” to the pastors, teachers, administrators and coaches in the schools, because they “do the real transformative work,” he said.

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre, who serves as the vice chair of the foundation’s board, said he is grateful for the work the CEF has been doing. 

“I am deeply thankful that we can come together to create so much hope for so many families. God has blessed our families, our schools and this community,” said the archbishop. “Please join me in giving thanks to the Lord that a record number of families can have access to this life-changing opportunity called Catholic education.”

Dr. Mary Beth Bowling, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, said the CEF has provided the opportunity for Catholic schools to families who never thought that was a possibility. 

Bowling also noted that there are parallels between the CEF’s work and the work of the schools’ office — while the foundation partners with schools on financial aid, the Office of Catholic Schools partners with them on the “Catholic identity and the teaching side.”

“As the CEF is very strategic in how they benefit schools, we do the same through the teaching and learning lens,” said Bowling. “We’re parallel in that we’re both resourcing schools. We’re looking at their (students) needs as they enter. Every nuance is important as we walk a journey to constant improvement.” 

To learn more about the CEF, visit https://www.ceflou.org/.

Ruby Thomas
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Ruby Thomas
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