Catholic education supporter to receive first Aim Higher Foundation award

| September 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

Karen Rauenhorst of Holy Name of Jesus in Medina channels her passion for Catholic education to the Aim Higher Foundation, which offers scholarships to elementary students in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to help make tuition affordable. She will be the organization’s first recipient of its Night of Light Award. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Local philanthropist Karen Rauenhorst channels her lifelong passion for Catholic schools into helping children have the same educational opportunities she did.

After leading the board of the Aim Higher Foundation since its inception five years ago, she will be honored by the organization during its annual Night of Light celebration Sept. 28 at the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America.

Rauenhorst, 65, was co-chair of the Catholic Schools Commission in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2011 that sought to bolster local Catholic schools. That contributed to the establishment of the Aim Higher Foundation, with Rauenhorst taking the helm as founding chairwoman of the board of directors. A member of Holy Name of Jesus in Medina with her husband, Mark, she said Catholic education has greatly shaped her life.

“I went to Catholic grade school, high school and college,” said Rauenhorst, who grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, and attended Creighton University, a Jesuit university in Omaha, Nebraska. “I think what I learned there and how I was formed as a woman, as a leader and as a Christian was critical to where I am today. … I really learned the Jesuit way of doing service and service to others, and so that has really propelled me into where I am today and why I think Catholic education is a critical way to influence the lives of young children.”

She strongly supports the Aim Higher Foundation because it helps to make Catholic education affordable by offering $1,000 scholarships to students in need at the 83 schools in the archdiocese that have any of the grades kindergarten to eight. Once a child is selected to receive a scholarship, it remains in effect through the eighth grade, even if the child transfers to another Catholic school. Since 2012, the foundation has given more than $5.1 million in scholarships to more than 6,600 Catholic school children, according to its website.

“My focus is to give kids access,” said Rauenhorst, who sent her four children to Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Medina and Benilde-St. Margaret’s School in St. Louis Park. “We hear all the time, ‘Well, I could go to a Catholic school, but I don’t have enough resources.’ The bottom line always comes to the financial. That’s where it starts.”

She said Aim Higher will give about 1,200 scholarships to local Catholic elementary students this year, and the organization will continue its fundraising efforts to ensure that tuition assistance flows into the hands of families in need who are committed to Catholic education.

“We have to keep moving forward,” she said. “We have to find the right way to lead in our Catholic schools, and we need the laypeople, we need the Church officials and we need the teachers and principals all on the same page.”

Rauenhorst, who also is a member of the archdiocese’s board of trustees, will receive the inaugural Night of Light award from Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Carolyn Woo, former president of Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services.

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