In any given year, Catholic schools educate more than 1.6 million students across the country. Through the pandemic, Catholic schools have earned well-deserved praise for their efforts to provide their proven benefits, forming children in mind, body, and soul. Unfortunately, instead of seeing more Catholic school graduates next year, we will see fewer. Despite beating the odds time and time again these past 14 months, Catholic schools in the United States experienced a 6% decline in enrollment in 2020-21.
In the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, however—due to the tireless efforts of school leaders, our partner foundations, and you, our donors and friends—Catholic schools are not facing a decline. In fact, enrollment has increased this year for the first time in more than a decade. Catholic schools have been one of the few, real alternatives parents have had for in-person instruction during the pandemic. Day in and day out, Catholic school teachers and leaders have provided a safe, high-quality educational environment to their more than 18,000 K-8 students.
But here’s the thing: Prior to COVID-19, in the state with the second-highest achievement gap in the country, Catholic schools were already among the few alternatives for low-income and historically disadvantaged parents. Again, because of you, the Aim Higher Foundation has been able to make all the benefits of a Catholic education accessible to families regardless of their financial circumstances. In fact, this past year, we increased the number of students we support by more than 50%. And we’re poised to continue growing next year!
Over the next 10 days as part of the #SpringForwardMN giving event, we invite you to support our work to help even more children access a Catholic school. We join in this event with nonprofits across Minnesota who have stepped up to support those disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Today, we ask that you consider a gift to support our mission.