By Glenn Rutherford, Record Editor
That need has been measured at about $4 million, and the efforts of the CEF, though substantial, are able to meet only half of that number.
But last month Rosemary Bisig Smith, executive director of the CEF, announced that the Humana Foundation and KentuckyOne Health have launched new efforts to support the CEF and its goals.
The Humana Foundation, working with Rich Leichleiter and the board of the CEF, has created the Humana Scholars Program. It provides $25,000 per year for three years — enough money to provide $1,000 scholarships for 25 students. This year those students receiving the scholarships attend 13 Catholic elementary schools.
One of those students is Steele Whitney, an eighth-grader at St. Stephen Martyr School.
In email exchanges last week, his parents, Steve and Darlene Whitney, acknowledged the significance of the scholarship and said their son is aware of the financial sacrifice the family must share in order to give him a Catholic education.
“As parents, we feel it is the best education he could receive,” Darlene Whitney said, “in addition to the strong emphasis on moral development and faith-based education. All that we ask of Steele is to strive to be the best student he can be.”
He has begun to accomplish that, the parents said, by earning the Humana scholarship which recognizes academic excellence.
The CEF’s Smith said the new Humana program is open to each elementary school — and its students — in the Archdiocese of Louisville.
“Applications were sent to all elementary principals,” she explained. “They were asked to send us the names of three applicants from their school for consideration.”
In addition to academic excellence, the students selected to receive the $1,000 scholarships must also meet “fitness, health and wellness criteria,” Smith explained.
“We were also able to show Humana that the families were qualified and needed the tuition assistance,” she said. Those families, like all who apply for
financial aid within the archdiocese, have their financial situation and ability determined by a third-party company which determines the need for assistance.
“And most of the applicants were able to meet the fitness and health and wellness criteria,” Smith noted, “because either their school had an hour of physical activity during the day or they were involved in sports or other physical activity.”
The idea behind Humana’s inclusion of the fitness and health criteria in the scholarship program is part of the company’s effort at increasing awareness of the benefits of preventive health and fitness efforts.
For their part, the Whitneys said it was “nice to see a large organization such as Humana take an interest in Catholic elementary schools and their hard working, community-minded students.”
“It’s important to not take Catholic education for granted,” the Whitneys said in their email. “As a family, we have made Catholic education a priority. With this economy, any assistance that a family can receive is greatly appreciated.”
They added that they believe the future of Catholic education “can no longer be placed exclusively on the individual parishes that have schools and on parents who pay tuition.
“The future of Catholic schools depends on the entire Catholic community embracing wholeheartedly the concept of a stewardship of time, talent and treasure and helping every Catholic child to be able to afford to attend a Catholic school.”
The Humana Scholars Program is “a huge move in the right direction,” the CEF’s Smith said. “The $4 million in need has been documented, so programs and ideas such as this one are really going to help.”
KentuckyOne Health has made a three-year commitment to the CEF of $105,000 to support the foundation’s two major fund-raising events — the annual Salute to Catholic School Alumni banquet and the Salute to The Game Luncheon that occurs each year prior to the St. Xavier High School and Trinity High School football game. The commitment, Smith said, “significantly enhances the foundation’s ability to plan for the future.”