I am always amused by the rush for pumpkin-spice everything this time of the year. The demand for this seasonal special is incredible to behold, and it seems to be growing each year! Pumpkin-spice lattes, pumpkin-spice bagels, pumpkin-spice candles, pumpkin-spice pancakes—I even saw pumpkin-spiced perfume a couple weeks ago.
People keep buying it, so companies keep making it. If the demand decreased, the pumpkin-spice fad might wither up and fade away, saving us each year from the next great pumpkin-spice thing. Good riddance? Or good riddance! It’s hard to say.
The ebbs and flows of “demand” have been on my mind lately. Following the closure of one scholarship application cycle and the beginning of another, I’ve been buoyed by the data we collected that shows, contrary to popular opinion and much like the pumpkin-spice craze, the demand for a Catholic education is increasing. Minnesota families completed more than 6,000 applications for our $1,000 scholarships this year, a five percent increase from the year before. That is to say, more families are seeking the life-changing benefits of a Catholic education for their children today than in each of our last six years as an organization.
That’s encouraging news, especially for the future of Catholic schools! My optimism is tempered, however, by the fact that nearly half of those applications come from families experiencing deep financial challenges. Most are unable to pay the cost of rising tuition. People will pay for a $5 pumpkin-spice latte. A $5,000 education is tougher to swallow.
Here at the Aim Higher Foundation, our goal is to ensure that every child whose family seeks for them a Catholic education can access a Catholic school, regardless of their financial situation. The demand for a Catholic school is growing and with it, the amount of aid needed to assist these families. Thanks to our donors and friends, we awarded scholarships to 1,305 children this year, our most ever. With your help, we will award even more next year, providing more children access to high-quality, faith-based schools!
During this season of gratitude (and pumpkin-spice everything), thank you for your support. Thank you for your friendship. And thank you for joining us in our effort to help even more children across this Archdiocese.