Aim Higher president: Schools can only serve students with community’s help

| January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

Jean Houghton became the Aim Higher Foundation’s president in November. She previously oversaw advancement and admissions at St. Agnes School in St. Paul and, before that, was a corporate business consultant with McDonald’s Corporation. The Catholic Spirit asked Houghton about her vision for the St. Paul-based Aim Higher Foundation, which provides tuition assistance for students attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Her responses have been edited for length.

Jean Houghton

Q. You became the Aim Higher Foundation’s president in November. What drew you to the position?

A. I truly believe that Catholic schools are in the midst of a renaissance. Today, perhaps more than ever, the Catholic community is poised to build on the extraordinary legacy of these schools. Catholic schools embody a unique ability to serve children from all walks of life. They provide an excellent academic education steeped in the rich tradition of our Catholic faith. While I am humbled by the invitation to lead this foundation, I also know that our schools can only serve our children with the help of our community, a calling I could not turn down and am excited to lead. Together, we will be able to provide more avenues to help more children access these life-changing institutions.

Q. How do you hope to leverage your business consulting and school advancement experience in your new role?

A. The USCCB said in 2005 that it is the responsibility of the entire Catholic community—religious and laity—to make Catholic schools available, accessible, and affordable to all children, especially those from low and middle-income families. I believe I am but one of thousands in this Archdiocese who have fervently taken up that call. Our Church needs each of us as much as we need her. The knowledge, experience, and strategic insight to which I was exposed in the corporate world are just as important to the vitality of our Church. I hope my path might serve as a guide for others in the future.

Q. What impact do you see Aim Higher having on Catholic education in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis?

A. Our mission is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, can access a Catholic school. We believe a family’s ability to provide a Catholic education for their children should be determined by nothing more than that family’s decision to do so. What that translates to practically is that we offer tuition assistance scholarships to children. We also stay engaged with proven, innovative solutions to the question of school access, for example, publicly-funded school choice.

Q. How have Catholic schools made a difference in your own life?

A. I am a product of Catholic schools. My children are. And I’ve experienced first-hand, year after year, students at local Catholic schools discover who God made them to be. A faith-based, values-driven and academically rigorous education instills in children everything they need to succeed in life and beyond. I simply would not be here without it.

Q. What is your vision for Aim Higher’s future?

A. My hope is that together, the Aim Higher Foundation’s supporters and friends, school leaders and families, and all those in the community can create a world where a child — every child — whose family desires for him or her a Catholic education, can access one.

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