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St. John Vianney earns $25K grant

OFFERING THANKS — Father Andrew Beerman and Principal Sarah Striemer look on Thursday as St. John Vianney students present cards and letters of thanks to Steve Hoeppner, vice president of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. The foundation awarded the school a $25,000 grant.

FAIRMONT — Students at St. John Vianney School in Fairmont can look forward to some classroom improvements in the near future thanks to a $25,000 matching challenge grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation.

The school was not only able to meet the challenge but surpass it, raising almost $32,000 in new and increased donations.

Steve Hoeppner, vice president of the foundation, discussed how the foundation works and why it chose St. John Vianney to receive a grant, along with 17 other Catholic schools.

“It was founded by Richard Schulze, who is the founder of Best Buy,” he said. “His family foundation actually gives in three primary areas: education, health and medical, and human services. In 2019, the foundation proudly contributed to about 500 organizations for a total of over $40 million.

“In the education space, one of his priorities is to support Catholic elementary schools. Primarily we give in the Twin Cities, and we’ve been supporting Catholic schools there for about five years. Last year, Mr. Schulze and the foundation board decided to reach out to one more diocese in the state, so Winona Rochester was chosen.”

Hoeppner noted how the foundation connected with St. John Vianney.

“So we visited 18 Catholic elementary schools within the diocese with the idea of talking about Mr. Schulze’s interests in the schools’ striving for excellence and trying to help as many kids as possible access the schools regardless of what their financial situation was,” he said. “After I visited the 18 schools, then the foundation was interested in offering each of the schools a $25,000 grant, then the challenge is for the school to raise $25,000 from new donors, or from donors who have given before but increase their gift. Once that total of new and increased gifts adds up to $25,000, then the Schulze Foundation will write a check for $25,000.”

SJV Principal Sarah Striemer described how the funds will be put to use.

“We’re going to upgrade our smart boards,” she said. “We’re looking at the new wireless ones, and working on that.

“We’re also looking at making our preschool program more visible to the community,” she said.

Striemer noted how thankful she and the rest of the staff are for the tremendous giving that made the grant possible.

“It was amazing the number of people who, when they saw that the Schulze Foundation was doing this, they didn’t even question it. It’s a pretty amazing gift.”

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