Generosity for Catholic education shines at Night of Light

| October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

Student choirs from Blessed Trinity School in Richfield, Community of Saints Regional Catholic School in West St. Paul, St. Dominic School in Northfield and St. Odilia in Shoreview performed for the Night of Light Sept. 28. The Aim Higher Foundation gala raised nearly $1.1 million for scholarship money for K-8 Catholic school students around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Courtesy Aim Higher Foundation

Aim Higher Foundation President Jean Houghton was amazed the moment she saw on a large screen how much attendees donated for Catholic education at the St. Paul-based nonprofit’s gala Sept. 28.

“My reaction was I burst into tears with complete joy,” Houghton said. “I was overwhelmed, and frankly excited that we’re going to be able to help even more kids next year.”

The foundation’s sixth-annual Night of Light gala garnered $1,096,000 in donations to support scholarships for children to attend Catholic schools. Last year’s event brought in a little more than $600,000. Houghton said she personally hoped to raise $800,000 from this year’s event, held at JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America in Bloomington.

“So for us to come in with [almost] $1.1 million, I was completely stunned,” Houghton said.

Aim Higher’s $1,000 scholarships help families with financial need send their children to any of the 83 Catholic schools that serve K-8 students in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Since 2012, the foundation has helped over 6,600 children attend Catholic schools with $5.1 million in scholarship funds.

The demand for financial aid remains high as Aim Higher received 6,000 applications for scholarships in 2017. Aim Higher could only offer scholarships to “a little over 1,300 of those kids,” Houghton said. She added that she’s seen the demand for Catholic education increase with five-percent more applicants this year.

Night of Light’s success didn’t come from one or major gifts. Houghton said there was a “higher average gifts” amount among the 480 attendees compared to recent years. The event also had a 50-person attendance increase from last year.

“I think right now more and more of our supporters are starting to realize that now is the time where we absolutely have to be supporting our Catholic schools because that’s our future,” Houghton said. “They recognize regardless of what may or may not be happening within the Church here or elsewhere, we should be helping our children even more because of that. So not only are we going to not let that affect us, we’re actually going to work with even more fervor to support more kids.”

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