The George and Mary Kremer Foundation has announced tuition assistance grant recipients for the 2020-21 school year. (Submitted photo)

Five area Catholic Schools will each receive $10,000 to help assuage tuition costs of children from financially challenged families in their schools. The funds are presented to the schools from the George and Mary Kremer Foundation.

Schools from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee receiving Kremer Foundation Grants include All Saints Catholic School, Kenosha; Holyland Catholic School, Malone; Mary Queen of Saints Academy, West Allis; St. Joseph Catholic Academy, Kenosha; and St. Mary’s Springs Academy, Fond du Lac.

For the seventh consecutive year, Holyland Catholic School has received the grant funds and, according to Principal John Wertschnig, the grants help to fill in the gaps for students who may not qualify for other tuition assistance programs.

“As a private institution, they are not bound by the government’s standard income limit for reduced-priced meals,” he said. “Holyland Catholic School submits all the applications to the Kremer Foundation. We decide how much of the grant is awarded to the individual students based on need. The amount received depends on the number of applications submitted. I am quite sure that some students would not attend school at Holyland Catholic School if not for the Kremer Foundation Grant Program.”

Since 1985, the Kremer Foundation has been committed to providing Catholic elementary schools in the continental United States with tuition assistance grants for children from financially challenged families.

The Kremers developed their foundation soon after meeting the late Sr. Trinita Balbach, OSF, then the principal of St. Ann’s Catholic School in Naples, Florida. The couple were living in the city and after meeting the sister, were inspired to help some of her students from parish families dealing with financial constraints so they could continue their Catholic education at St. Ann’s.

Executive Director of The Kremer Foundation Mary Goddard said the Kremers were faithful Catholics who generously shared their resources with others in need throughout their lives.

“They were faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ in generously sharing their resources with others in need,” Goddard said. “It has been my great honor and privilege to be a part of the foundation since the early days. I get overwhelmed just thinking about the impact they have had on these children’s lives. And it began about 38 years ago with Mr. Kremer wanting to buy a dishwasher for Sr. Trinita’s convent. She said: ‘I don’t need a dishwasher. I have seven dishwashers, but I do have three children that won’t be able to return to school this year unless I find some money for their tuition.’ That planted the seed for the Kremer Foundation.”

To distribute the funds, principals of the participating schools around the country select the students who need tuition assistance, and no student names are ever announced. The five selected schools from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are considered “participating schools,” said Goddard. There are also eight other schools in the archdiocese that have received grants in the past. Those schools either closed, merged or didn’t have enough children that needed assistance due to state programs. The amount those schools received totaled $783,716.

“The current participating schools continue to be invited to apply each year for a grant, provided there are no extenuating circumstances — for example, if they close, they merge, they fail to apply, they don’t have four or more children that qualify,” she said. “The total grants, not including the upcoming year, to those five schools total $631,484 and the number of tuition grants to children to date total 626.”

Kenosha’s All Saints Catholic Schools community is very grateful to be recipients of the $10,000 grant and for the generosity of the Kremer Foundations, said Principal Kelly Neu.

“In order for families to qualify for the Kremer scholarship, their family income cannot exceed the Kremer Foundation’s maximum family income limit. Unfortunately, it has never been difficult to identify families in our ASCS community that do not exceed the annual income limit. This limit really identifies families that are making extreme sacrifices to send their child or children to a Catholic School,” she explained. “It is requested by the foundation that we distribute the funds to at least, if not more than, four students. On average, we distribute the $10,000 grant between six and eight students. Without a doubt, these assistance awards allow families to attend ASCS who, without them, would likely be unable to attend our school. The families are so grateful for the assistance, and we are grateful to be able to partner with the Kremer Foundation to help them.”

Grants provided for the 2020-21 school year extended to more than 3,700 individual students in 450 schools, located in 132 archdioceses and dioceses in 49 states, including the District of Columbia. Since the Foundation’s inception, more than 84,000 Catholic elementary school students have benefited from the foundation’s grants. To date, the Kremer Foundation has awarded more than $75 million dollars to Catholic elementary schools for tuition grants.

“The Kremers passed away in 1997 and 2005, respectively. They both were unbelievable individuals who truly sympathized with the plight of parents in making Catholic school a priority versus sometimes other necessities,” explained Goddard. “When Mr. Kremer passed, we were in about 167 schools. When Mrs. Kremer passed, we had 325 schools. I don’t believe Mr. Kremer envisioned the foundation ever being as far-reaching as it has become today.”