By Jordan Gerard
Editor, The Caledonia Argus
Kids at St. Mary’s School will have new opportunities to learn about STEM subjects and partake in leadership programs.
The funding for those programs came from a generous matching grant opportunity through the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, which challenged St. Mary’s to raise any amount of money up to $25,000 and they would match it.
School board member Chad Harms said they decided to go for the full amount. The fundraising started in May and the school was able to meet their goal in February this year.
“It came from out of nowhere, which some might say was a gift from God,” he said. “It will allow us to move forward and offer programs to the students. We’re very humble and appreciative for all the extra efforts.”
The unexpected $50,000 will support student development through the creation of a servant leadership program and also grow the school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program, Principal Rebecca Swedberg said.
“The servant leadership program will prepare our students to be life-long learners who will have the necessary skills to be future leaders in our community,” she added. “The growth of our STEM program will help our students develop critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills.”
The school sent out letters to parishioners of St. Mary’s Church asking for new donations. Those who previously donated to the school had to go above and beyond their previous largest donation in order for it to count toward the $25,000 goal, Swedberg said.
The Schulze Foundation worked with the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester to help schools raise money.
According to its website, the foundation was created in 2004 by Best Buy founder Dick Schulze “to give back to the communities where Dick and his family grew up – in Minnesota...” The foundation directs its efforts and resources toward agendas including human and social services, health and medicine and education.
“St. Mary’s School is grateful for the opportunity provided by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation,” Swedberg said. “We thank the foundation and everyone who donated to help St. Mary’s reach our goal.”