Catholic Education Foundation Serves as “Third Leg of Stool”

| January 20, 2012

By Dc. Tom Picciano

The Don Hengel Golf Tournament is a familiar name in Broome County (NY). Not so familiar is the name of the organization that sponsors the golf outing each year: the Catholic Education Foundation. The foundation also raises money through a car raffle and a “green tie” event, but, at more than half-a million dollars, the Hengel Tournament remains the major fundraiser for the organization.

While Foundation Treasurer Joe Carpenter acknowledges that most people notice the more high profile events that come out of the foundation, few understand that “it’s not the majority of what we do. “We’re trying to make the schools accessible for as many students as we can.” He likens the need for a Catholic Education Foundation to a three-legged stool. “We obviously had money from tuition, and we had money from the parish assessments. It became apparent as we went down the line at some stage of the game that we were going to need the third leg of that stool,” he said.

The Catholic Education Foundation incorporated as a 503 (c) in 2005 with a major emphasis on helping students who could not otherwise afford a Catholic school education. It provides about $25,000 to $30,000 to the diocese for tuition assistance each year. The foundation has other restricted funds that provide money for a variety of scholarships, as well. The focus has shifted to other needs, however, especially given recent capital improvements made to schools in Broome County. The foundation helped by receiving and distributing a $50,000 donation from the Mirabito family for a new science lab for middle school students at Seton Catholic Central Jr./Sr. High School.

“I would say support of the children is number one,” said Carpenter. “When you’re
trying to raise money, it’s nice to have projects that people can hang their hats on. We’re going to build a new science lab. We’re going to put up new computers. We’re going to put a new scoreboard up. People say, ‘That’s something tangible. That’s something I can get a grip on. I’ll give you $500.’”

Foundation President John Dowd, who established and heads up the Hengel Tournament, looks at the foundation’s work as key to ensuring the future of Catholic education. “You need to invest in Catholic education if the Church wants strong members and a high probability of vocations,” he said recently. “Even non-Catholic residents need to hope that faith-based education survives to attract businesses that demand educational alternatives. Without new resources, without parents willing to give us their children to educate, Catholic schools are clearly an endangered species.”

Dc. Tom Picciano writes from the Binghamton, NY, area for the Catholic Sun.

Category: Stewardship

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