Discover the Difference: Foundation awards grants to three schools

by Diocese of Des Moines | August 4, 2021

Bishop Joensen, Ellen Stemler, Sue McEntee

Three Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools were recently awarded grants from the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa . The  foundation received 29 applications for this year's grant cycle from area parishes, schools and other entities. The three diocesan schools were notified of their awards in May and have spent the summer months planning to implement the programs funded through the generosity of the foundation and its board of directors.

"Our Catholic schools are a vital part of what we do within the Diocese of Desnull Moines. While all of our grant submissions had very worthy projects, these schools we selected for awards that stood out," said Sue McEntee, executive director of the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa. "Our goal is to help create immediate change and hopefully that change can be replicated elsewhere. These grants showed the ability to create an impact. Including impact on students, families, and our Catholic community as a whole."


Christ the King Catholic School:

Christ the King was presented with the foundation's highest award, the Cornerstone Grant. Thanks to this generous support, Christ the King Catholic School is in the process of implementing a fully integrated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) program for its students. Funding will support the purchase of non-consumable lab materials, instructional lessons, equipment, and technology.

The need for stem education is essential to the vitality of the Des Moines community. According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center (2020), STEM-related jobs grew at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs between 2000 and 2010. STEM jobs also report salaries that exceed the national average. However, many of these jobs go unfilled with 2.4 million open STEM jobs reported in 2018. Des Moines and other communities across Iowa face a technology workforce crisis, with limited workers and a rapidly growing need. A recent report by the Governor's STEM Advisory Council showed a majority of Iowans (92%) believe a focus on STEM education will benefit the state's economy (Hargens, 2017).

STEM programming at Christ the King Catholic School will help ensure students in the Des Moines community are able to discover their unique gifts and strengths while providing these students with viable career pathways for the future that meet the demands of the market.

St. Pius X Catholic School:

nullSt. Pius X recently purchased the Elevate Science™ curriculum by Savvas. According to Savvas, "Elevate Science™ is a K-8 phenomena-based science curriculum immersing students in the inquiry process. Students investigate phenomena, engineer solutions, and demonstrate their understanding of key concepts. Elevate Science™ connects the heart of scientific knowledge with the science of doing," (Savvas, 2021).

The Elevate Science™ curriculum was selected for its robust, hands-on learning coupled with interactive digital content. The new curriculum will empower St. Pius to offer a K-8th grade aligned science curriculum with engaging instruction that is differentiated to meet the needs of all learning styles.

Grant funding from the foundation will support the purchase of lab equipment, materials, and incidental supplies to complete the school's new science curriculum and fully stock its science lab so students can participate in these hands-on science activities for years to come.

St. Theresa Catholic School:

Since 2011, St. Theresa Catholic School has offered an integrated STEM education that has been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally. Students at St. Theresa were the first in the state of Iowa to take part in the SeaPerch program which equips students to discover the world of robotics engineering by constructing remotely operated vehicles that travel underwater. More recently, two of the school's faculty members became STEM Innovator® certified positioning the school to prepare its students for STEM careers and future entrepreneurial pathways. Despite these successes and accolades, St. Theresa remains one of the best-kept secrets in the Diocese of Des Moines. We aim to change that by broadening St. Theresa's reach and brand awareness.

Grant funding from the CFSWIA will empower St. Theresa Catholic School to invest in an inbound marketing campaign to meet prospective parents where they live — online. By developing a strong inbound marketing strategy for St. Theresa Catholic School that leverages the communication power of social media, we can ensure positive enrollment gains for the school and provide more children the opportunity to experience a high-quality integrated STEM education filled with faith, academic excellence, and community.


The Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa was established in 2012 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines. The foundation advances stewardship rooted in best financial practices and Catholic values investing. To Catholic parishes, schools, and organizations, we provide strategic tools and fund management to ensure fiscal integrity and promote long-term financial security. To individual and family donors, we provide streamlined, faith-based opportunities for charitable giving. For a number of years, the foundation has provided financial assistance via grant awards to dozens of parishes, schools, and other not-for-profit organizations that fall within our Catholic values. Since the inception of its grant program, the foundation has awarded more than $230,000.

Outcomes from this year's grant awards will be shared throughout the year on the the foundation's website and social media platforms. Applications for the next grant cycle begin early in 2022. For more information, visit


The Diocese of Des Moines has 16 Catholic schools in 23 counties in central and southwest Iowa. Catholic schools in the Des Moines Diocese build Christ-centered, collaborative, inclusive partnerships with parents, students, and parishes to provide innovative academic excellence and inspirational faith formation. To learn more about the Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools, email

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.