New school endowments will strengthen Catholic education

In addition to funding received through ordinary giving at all parishes, extraordinary gifts to our schools ensure Catholic education remains a pillar of the Diocese of Wichita. The new school-based endowments for teacher salaries will serve as another opportunity for parishioners throughout the diocese to help in this effort. For more information on ways to fund our schools, please visit

As another school year draws to a close, we reflect on the value of Catholic education in the Diocese of Wichita. Across the region, our Catholic schools are forming and educating the next generation of disciples. This past year alone, more than 9,500 students were educated and formed in the faith in our 34 grade schools and four high schools. These schools are hubs of learning, prayer, and fellowship – a gift to those they serve and an investment in the next generation.

“I am inspired constantly by what I experience when visiting our schools,” said Janet Eaton, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools. “Whether it is in the reverence and participation at Mass, the outreach of students in serving the less fortunate, the dynamic discussions that take place in the classroom or the many ways students live out their faith in performing arts and athletics.”

The impact of a Catholic education lasts a lifetime and extends well beyond classroom learning. Students in Catholic schools have opportunities to encounter Jesus through retreats, days of recollection, service projects, and other faith-formation experiences that shape their faith for years to come.

Catholic Schools are a Top Priority

For all these reasons, support for Catholic education is one of the top priorities for the diocesan campaign, One Family, Fully Alive in Christ! The campaign is raising $15 million to establish 38 new school-based endowments to provide long-term funding to our Catholic schools, specifically to enhance the salaries of Catholic educators across the diocese. The goal is to supplement stewardship of treasure at the parish level and help Catholic schools keep pace with salary increases in local public schools.

“Our Catholic schools are remarkable in many ways,” said Bishop Carl A. Kemme. “Each day, our teachers and administrators touch the lives of the young people they serve and fulfill our mission to make missionary disciples for Jesus Christ. This diocesan campaign is an important way for us to strengthen our schools and further support the work and ministry of our teachers for many years to come.”

While parish stewardship of treasure remains the primary source of funding for Catholic schools, the diocese and its parishes are seeking additional resources to bolster salaries and help close the pay gap in the years to come. These new endowments are another important step in that direction.

“While significant, this campaign and the $15 million it will raise for new school-based endowments are just a starting point,” Eaton said. “There will be many, many opportunities to build and grow these endowments and further strengthen our Catholic schools for current and future generations. Years from now, we’ll look back with a deep sense of pride for what we have accomplished for our Catholic schools and the families they serve.”

Plan for Funding the New Endowments

Individual parish teacher salary enhancement endowment funds will be established for each of the 38 schools at the end of 2024. Deposits into these endowments will occur in January of each year beginning in 2025, based on cash received from campaign pledges and gifts as of December 31 of the previous year.
Given the timing and structure of the campaign, significant funds should be deposited into the endowments and ready for distribution by July 2027. By July 2028, most or all campaign pledges should be completely paid and therefore endowments are anticipated to be fully funded from the proceeds of the campaign.

Once established, the endowments will distribute up to 4% of the ending market balance of the average of previous 12 quarters for pastors and school administrators to use to enhance their teachers’ salaries. The diocese will have endowment agreements in place with pastors and school leaders to guide the management, distribution and use of funds.

This is a long-term plan to increase teachers’ salaries and strengthen our Catholic schools. It will no doubt take time for these funds to generate significant supplemental support for schools, but – over time – they will play an increasingly important role in funding Catholic education in our diocese and helping to ensure we recruit and retain the best Catholic teachers.

“Through this campaign, we are planting seeds that will grow and bear fruit in the future,” said diocesan Director of Development, Mike Wescott. “When we first established the St. Katharine Drexel Endowment Fund in 2005, the income available to use for distribution was around $75,000 per year to support our schools. Now, through the intentional investment and growth of that fund, along with gifts from both the TOGETHER Vision campaign and other generous donors over the last 19 years, that endowment generates just over $450,000 annually. These new endowments are an opportunity for us to provide similar supplemental funding on a local level for each of our Catholic schools.”

In addition to cash gifts and pledges, planned gifts and bequests will play an important role in growing these new school-based endowments in the coming years. Parishioners will have the opportunity to support their favorite Catholic schools – now and beyond their lifetime – with a planned gift in their will or estate plan. Those who make a planned gift in support of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita or a parish, school, or ministry will join the Grateful Steward Legacy Society in recognition of their commitment to the stewardship way of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the reasoning for school-based teacher salary endowments?

This is a two-part question. First, why parish-based endowments? The answer is primarily based on the principle of subsidiarity: the idea that decisions should be made on the lowest level of an organizational hierarchy. In the Diocese of Wichita, this would be with our pastors in their parishes. Our Catholic school system is a parish-based model and this approach best reflects our organizational structure.

Second, why endowments?

True endowments will allow schools to sustain funding over a longer period. For example, if we were to spend down the funds over a 10-year period, we would be in the same position in 10 years, with a significant shortfall in our ability to pay equitable salaries. These true endowments will provide long-term, sustainable funding in perpetuity for each of our schools. Through this campaign, we are laying a foundation for the future stability and growth of our Catholic school system in the Diocese of Wichita.

Who made the decision to establish school-based endowments and how was that decision made?

Bishop Kemme and the diocesan campaign leadership team evaluated several options regarding how to best meet the need for increasing salaries for our teachers. The true endowment option was chosen to have the best and highest return for the long-term benefit of enhancing teacher salaries. As a part of the discernment, Janet Eaton, Superintendent of our Catholic Schools, vetted this option with a group of pastors and they concurred that consistent long-term funding was a solid option versus a time-limited influx of funds.

How will this help solve the problem or help close the gap?

This plan is certainly not a quick fix. It is a long-term investment in the future of our Catholic schools. It is a starting point, a springboard for future growth, and an additional source of funding that will be available in perpetuity. As with many things, this approach is one of several steps we need to take to help close the funding gap. The primary revenue for funding the Catholic schools is the parishioners of that parish. This campaign will not change that methodology. Last year, Janet Eaton met with pastors, school administrators, and finance councils in parish schools across the diocese, sharing realities of the current state of teacher salaries, and how this impacts retaining and hiring teachers. Our pastors have worked very hard to share that story with their parishioners. We are already seeing an increase in tithing and stretching of school budgets to boost teachers’ salaries, even before these endowments are established.