Adopt-a-Student program helps donors ‘put a face’ to the impact of their gifts

Moira Cullings

As a child of eight who grew up in a lower income neighborhood in St. Louis, Joe Schmid understands how a Catholic education can open the door to greater opportunities.

“Even though money was tight, my parents felt it was important to provide us with a Catholic education,” said Schmid. “I believe that the Catholic education I received and the morals instilled in me at these schools are a big factor in my successes in life.”

Schmid and his wife, Becky, wanted to give to children in a similar situation, so they became sponsors for Adopt-a-Student, a Seeds of Hope program that pairs each donor with a student from an archdiocesan kindergarten through eighth grade school.

“There are many great charities and programs out there,” said Schmid. “This one called to me given the importance that a Catholic education played in my life.”

The program currently offers scholarships to students from the 10 schools Seeds of Hope serves.

I believe that the Catholic education I received and the morals instilled in me at these schools are a big factor in my successes in life.”

“The students with the greatest need are usually Adopt-a-Students because it’s the biggest scholarship that we offer,” said Jay Clark, Executive Director of Seeds of Hope.

The organization reviews applications for the scholarships to find the kids most in need, and it works with principals to make sure they’ve found the best matches. Students are also chosen based on parent involvement and commitment to their child’s education.

Although the scholarship is the largest offered by any Seeds of Hope Program, many donors are drawn to Adopt-a-Student and stick with their students through eighth grade because of the personal connection they feel.

Students send their donor a letter at the beginning of the school year introducing themselves and a thank you letter during the holidays. Teachers send donors a report of the students’ academic, spiritual and social growth at the end of the year. In the past, donors have also had the opportunity to meet with their student once during the year.

“That’s one of the cool parts about it — it really connects the donor directly with the student,” said Clark.

For donors like Schmid, those opportunities make the giving experience unique.

“It certainly increases my sense of satisfaction regarding our gifts,” said Schmid. “While not a primary reason for contributing, it is nice to ‘put a face’ on the money we are donating. Visiting the schools and the kids we are sponsoring lets us know that our donations are being used as we intended.”

The Schmid family began supporting students during the 2013-2014 school year. During the 2015-2016 school year, they began sponsoring two students, which they have continued to do ever since. This year, their students will be in first and sixth grades.

Adopt-a-Student “is very popular from the retention level we have,” said Clark. “We usually have at least 75 or 80 percent retention rate with the donors. I think it all goes back to that connection.

“After two or three years, the donors feel very invested in the kids,” he said. “It is definitely one of our more popular programs.”

And the need for continued support is there.

The average income of a family of four who receives the Adopt-a-Student scholarship is around $34,000, said Clark. But at the same time, those families are hard-working and involved in their children’s education.

“They’re invested, and they’re making tremendous sacrifices to send their kids to Catholic schools because they believe in the faith-based curriculum,” said Clark.

After two or three years, the donors feel very invested in the kids. It is definitely one of our more popular programs.”

“These folks who are in tough financial situations believe so much in the education that they’re willing to make that sacrifice.”

Although the program is flourishing with 100 adopted students this school year, Clark and his team have high hopes for the future.

“One thing we’ve learned in the process is there’s need all across the archdiocese,” said Clark. “I really hope that we can expand this program so that when somebody is in a community outside of the Greater Denver area, they can support a student in their own community, because the need is there.”

Schmid’s hope for the students he supports is that they receive the same benefits from their education that he did.

“Ultimately, I hope the education they receive and values they develop allow them to live meaningful and productive lives, and that one day, when their situation allows, they ‘pay it forward’ and try to make things better for others less fortunate,” he said.

To learn more, contact [email protected] or call (303) 715-3127.

COMING UP: What will be your faith legacy?

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By Deacon Jim Parrilli

The Catholic Foundation invites you to experience the joy of giving now and beyond your lifetime.

When you choose to give, you choose to love and that creates profound joy. The Catholic Foundation is here to help you consider making gifts that will keep giving… gifts that will support the Kingdom of God.

In the sixth chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, he reminds us, “So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.”

The Archdiocese of Denver established The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado in 1998 to be legally separate and distinct from the archdiocese, with the intent and sole purpose of supporting our Catholic community financially for generations to come.

The Catholic Foundation gathers and grows assets to ensure that a strong, vibrant, and faithful Catholic community will always be right there at your parish and throughout the entire archdiocese.

What does this have to do with your end-of-year charitable gifting? Gifting into The Catholic Foundation gives you the ease and flexibility of opportunities that no other institution can match.

The Catholic Foundation facilitates giving to the Church using funds and opportunities, such as Donor Advised Funds and Planned Gifts from Your Estate. They accept stocks, insurance policies, IRAs, real estate and nearly any viable asset to promote the Gospel message, transform lives and give glory to God.

When you give through The Catholic Foundation, you can designate support to a specific Catholic entity, like parishes, schools, ministries, seminaries, or other charitable causes. Enjoy peace of mind knowing you will partner with a company that adheres to Catholic teachings, honors faith-based priorities, and upholds the standards of Morally-Responsible Investment Policy in accord with the USCCB.

Matthew 19:29 says: “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.”

Each one of us is different with different circumstances, backgrounds, and financial responsibilities. And it is up to us to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

Popular asset vehicles that The Catholic Foundation clients consider include:
• Bequest: Simply include language in your Will to specify a gift to be made – either as a dollar amount or a percentage of assets.
• Special Gifts: Leave charitable gifts of real estate, stocks, bonds or other assets.
• Trust or Annuity: Create a Trust or Annuity to provide lifetime income for you or a loved one and then pass remaining assets to charity.
• Life Insurance: If you are maintaining coverage that you or your family no longer need, just change the beneficiary – or gift the paid-up policy now.
• Retirement Plan Assets, IRA: You may indicate a charitable organization as the beneficiary of your retirement account. Call if you want to hear how to avoid taxes on your IRA.

Another way to support Catholic causes is through a Donor Advised Account. Here’s how it works:
• Start your account at The Catholic Foundation with a simple agreement that can be completed in minutes.
• Add assets to your account as an individual, family or corporation – or transfer assets from another foundation or donor advised fund.
• Recommend charitable gift distributions to Catholic parishes, schools, seminaries, apostolates or other nonprofit organizations.
• Receive special tax advantages and an immediate charitable tax deduction for each contribution to your account.

Prudent planning starts with just a conversation. Please call 303-468-9885 and ask for Lisa, Jean or Deacon Steve to discuss the many investment options available to support what matters most to you or visit them at thecatholicfoundation.com.