News: Couple's generosity benefits families seeking Catholic education
September 16, 2021
Over the last 23 years, more than three quarters of a million dollars have helped pay tuition for needy families in the Diocese of Des Moines who wanted a Catholic education for their children.
This academic year, six schools will receive up to $10,000 each from the Florida-based Kremer Foundation to help children.
“Some people think $10,000 is a drop in the bucket but that’s a lifetime of difference to families and kids,” said St. Anthony School Principal Jennifer Raes.
The generosity comes from the George and Mary Kremer Foundation of Florida.
George came from wealth. He was born in New York City and fondly remembered the religious women who educated him. His wife, Mary, grew up in a devout Catholic family of modest means in Ohio. Her family made Catholic education a priority.
A creator of the first semi-permanent hair dye, George sold his company, Roux, in the late 1970s to Revlon, an international company.
The Kremers used their wealth to take care of everyone in their family, and then thought about how to use the rest of it.
“Mr. Kremer always felt it was a disservice to leave an immense amount of money to anybody,” said Goddard.
The Kremers met Franciscan Sister Trinita Balbach, principal of a local Catholic school in the 1980s. The couple toured her convent and school and wanted to buy the sisters mattresses, new blinds for their windows and a dishwasher.
Sister Trinita objected, saying she had six sisters who could wash dishes. What she really needed was help for kids who weren’t sure they’d be returning to school the following year because of the cost of tuition.
“He wrote out a check,” Goddard said. “That sort of planted the seed of what he could do with his money.”
The Kremers and Sister Trinita picked five schools and gave them $4,000 each for a few years.
uIt worked so well that we decided to go further,” Goddard said. By the time George died in 1997, he was giving 54 schools money to help children with tuition.
“I don’t think at that time he ever realized the reach he was going to have,” Goddard said.
When George died, he put half of his estate in the foundation, which invested the funds and expanded the number of schools and students, particularly in the Great Lakes region and the Midwest.
“Those were areas where our money got the most bang for its buck, meaning the tuitions were most reasonable,” Goddard said. The foundation helps students in small to medium size schools where tuition rates are about $5,000 or less and have a large percentage of children that come from financially challenged families.
Twenty three years ago, former St. Anthony School Principal Joe Cordaro saw a booth for the Kremer Foundation at an education fair, applied for assistance and received it.
It was a spark that inspired other school administrators to seek help.
To date, the Kremer Foundation has given $776,647 to six Catholic schools in the Diocese of Des Moines to help families pay for a faith-based education for their children.
“We’re appreciative that the Kremer Foundation is investing in children,” St. Anthony School Principal Raes said.
For the first time, St. Patrick School in Perry will receive $10,000 this academic year, giving 10 students $1,000 in tuition assistance.
“St. Patrick in Perry just got added because they had a compelling profile application that they sent in and we thought they were the kind of school that our foundation could make a difference in,” Goddard said. Principal Kandace Pattillo said her school used metrics from the Catholic Tuition Organization to help determine which students needed the assistance.
The philanthropy of the Kremers is an example of how one can leave a legacy that helps others.
The Kremer Foundation has given out more than $70 million in tuition grants and the principle of the trust continues to grow.
“It’s perpetual,” Goddard said. “It will go on beyond all of us.”
The following schools have received tuition grants from the Kremer Foundation.
Christ the King School 5 years $50,000
Holy Family School 17 years $162,150
St. Anthony School 23 years $211,750
St. Joseph Elementary 21 years $192,432
St. Patrick School 1 year $10,000
St. Pius X School 16 years $150,315
This includes tuition grants of $10,000 each for the six schools for this school year that will help pay the tuition for 95 children.
Individuals and families can help children who qualify for tuition assistance by donating to the Catholic Tuition Organization. The CTO collects donations and distributes them to students in the Diocese’s 16 schools who qualify. For more information go to CTOIowa.org or call 515-237-5010.