Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pohlad family pledges $5m to Catholic schools

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The family of the late Carl Pohlad is pledging annual $1 million gifts for the next five years to 19 Twin Cities Catholic elementary schools to help students from economically struggling families, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Thursday.

Through the Minneapolis Foundation and the Catholic Community Foundation, $1 million in tuition assistance will be distributed starting this school year and continuing through 2013-2014.

"The Pohlad family's quiet giving has focused on providing opportunities that help young people move out of poverty," Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a written statement. "We are grateful for the family's recommitment to Catholic education in neighborhoods where poverty has been growing."

In the first year, $900,000 will be distributed among 12 schools, all are members of a network Friends of the Catholic Urban Schools (FOCUS).

The schools began cooperating in 2004 to improve teacher recruitment, training, compensation, communications and fundraising. These schools are: Risen Christ, Pope John Paul II, Ascension and San Miguel in Minneapolis; St. Agnes, St. Matthew, St. Francis/St. James and St. Peter Claver in St. Paul; St. Raphael in Crystal; St. Michael in West St. Paul; Blessed Trinity in Richfield, and Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale.

Pohlad Family Foundation board member Robert Pohlad, a son of the longtime owner of the Minnesota Twins, said: "A strong education opens many doors and is the way out of poverty. My family appreciates the efforts of these schools to reach out to children and families who are working toward a better future."

The remaining $100,000 will be given annually as challenge grants to seven other Catholic schools. These schools are: St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center; St. Jerome in Maplewood; Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights; Maternity of Mary in St. Paul; St. Helena in Minneapolis; St. John Vianney in South St. Paul; and Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery. Each will be challenged to raise a proportional share of $50,000 by this coming Easter to be eligible for a 2-for-1 matching gift.

Carl Pohlad died 11 months ago at age 93. His funeral mass at the Basilica of St. Mary attracted 1,400 mourners and included Archbishop Nienstedt and his predecessor Harry Flynn.

In June, the archdiocese received a $10 million grant for 15 of its elementary schools in urban neighborhoods of Minneapolis, St. Paul and a handful of inner-ring suburbs. The Pohlad donation targets nearly all of these schools. The donation in June was given in Flynn's honor and is the largest foundation gift in the 157-year history of the archdiocese. The donor asked to remain anonymous. Star Tribune


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