2017 Gala Remarks from President Michael Rogers
April 28th, 2017
Risen Christ Catholic School’s President, Michael Rogers, delivered an important update on the school’s financial situation at the 2017 Gala For the Children at The Depot Minneapolis.
Good evening everyone! Welcome, one and all, to the 2017 Gala For the Children! It is fantastic to see so many of you here tonight to support the children of Risen Christ Catholic School. I would like to especially welcome Archbishop Hebda, as well as our teachers, staff and volunteers who have made tonight possible.
I appreciate the opportunity to have a few minutes to speak to you tonight before we begin our Special Appeal. And there are three things I want to convey:
1. I want you to know a little bit about the average Risen Christ student.
2. I want you to know about our plans for the future to address the serious financial challenges that we face.
3. I want you to be inspired to give generously for our Special Appeal which will conclude this wonderful evening.
Tonight, there is one person here for every child in our school. We have 335 students enrolled at Risen Christ right now and there are roughly the same number of guests here tonight.
Tonight, I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of one Risen Christ student. Picture yourself wearing that uniform that you saw on stage earlier. Now, keep the image of that beautiful child in mind as I continue.
Odds are, English is not your native language. Nine out of ten of you speak a different language at home — likely Spanish. Odds are that you are Latino, like 88% of our students. Your parents work multiple jobs to make ends meet. You are part of a family of four, and your family’s annual income is around $26,000.
Your parents are working multiple jobs to make ends meet and they have dreams for you. They want you in a safe school, which is why you are at Risen Christ. They want you in a school where you will learn about your faith, which is why you are at Risen Christ. They want you to thrive, and they want you to have opportunities that they did not. That’s why you are at Risen Christ, where they know that you are twice as likely to meet state standards in Reading and Math than if you attended your local Minneapolis public school.
If all 335 of you are students, only five of you in this audience right now have parents who can afford to pay Risen Christ’s full tuition of $2,300. On average, your parents are paying $747 per year for you to have the opportunity for a Catholic education. That’s about 10% of what it costs to educate you. And that $747 is a tremendous sacrifice for your parents. Thankfully, there are hundreds of generous donors who make up the gap so that you can be a Risen Christ student and live a brighter future.
Now, you can switch back to being an adult. The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the day-to-day worries and financial challenges that our students and their families face is not all that different from how Risen Christ operates! In fact, we have some of the same financial challenges but on a different scale. Instead of living paycheck to paycheck, we live gift to gift.
At Risen Christ right now, if a $100,000 grant goes away suddenly (as they sometimes do), we are in serious trouble. If a $50,000 gift goes away, we are still in serious trouble. The same with a $10,000 gift. In fact, every single dollar is important. Every gift you generously donate gives these children hope for a brighter future.
We operate Risen Christ on razor thin margins, with no waste and very tight budgeting. Even with a successful Annual Fund and this amazing event, we still struggle. This year we have seen our greatest challenge yet. You’ve never seen the type of scrambling that we’ve been doing over the past three weeks. The situation is urgent.
There are many reasons why our financial challenges came to a head this year, but the largest is because Risen Christ carries a significant amount of debt. It is debt that was taken on many years ago out of necessity, to help the school serve more children in poverty and to do it better than any other school in South Minneapolis. By that measure, Risen Christ is an astonishing success story.
But we still have debt and it is significant. Recognizing the challenges presented by this debt, the Board of Directors and I have resolved to eliminate it. Because that’s what will make the school sustainable: zero debt. I know we can do it! With a lot of hard work and dedication from all of us in this room, Risen Christ will be here for a very, very long time. But as long as we are in debt, we will continue to be in a very tight spot every Spring when we try to work out a budget to keep the doors open for another year.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is important that you know that there is no other Catholic school in Minnesota that is doing or can do what Risen Christ does. We serve more students of color than any other Catholic school. We serve more children living in poverty than any other Catholic school. Minnesota has the nation’s worst achievement gap, but we are closing that gap. And, most importantly, we are bringing the children closer to Christ. You are bringing them closer to Christ.
Our plan is to embark on a campaign to eliminate Risen Christ’s debt once and for all. Once we do that, the sky is the limit of what we can do for the children that you saw on this stage tonight. We will get there, but not without you. You are the fuel that keeps Risen Christ going. You provide the resources that accomplish the amazing things that happen every day at Risen Christ. You can help us bring Risen Christ into a financially sustainable future that is infinitely bright and hopeful.
I truly believe that we can accomplish great things together, united in love of the children and bolstered by the Faith that sustains our work. I am fully committed to making this school sustainable, and I hope you will join me in this mission. When we succeed together, it will be one of our greatest accomplishments.
So, please keep debt elimination in the back of your mind, but know that we are not kicking that off tonight. That will happen later this year.
For tonight, I invite every one of you to make a gift during our Special Appeal. The funds that you generously give tonight support the children right now — this year!
In the coming days and weeks I want each of you to look back on this evening and remember that, for a few moments, each of you represented one of our students. And when you think back on it I want you to be proud that you did everything possible for the children on this night.
Imagine what your gift in this Special Appeal means to that one child that you envisioned a few minutes ago. Imagine what that one child’s life would be like without Risen Christ. You can be the difference for that child tonight, so please give generously.
Risen Christ Catholic School in Minneapolis, MN is a K-8, bilingual, multicultural and financially accessible school of excellence, educating children in mind, body, and spirit to live and lead in the example of Jesus Christ.
Risen Christ Catholic School was formed in 1993 as the consolidation of five area parish schools: Holy Name, Holy Rosary, Incarnation, St. Albert the Great and St. Stephen’s, to preserve and strengthen Catholic education for new generations of children in the heart of south Minneapolis.