"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose,” said President Lyndon B. Johnson in his Thanksgiving Day speech in 1963.
Though 1963 is many years past, working to make the world a better place for tomorrow is a constant goal for St. Louis’ Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation.
The foundation assists faith-based and private schools in providing quality, affordable and accessible educational opportunities for any economically disadvantaged family within the St. Louis region through scholarships from local and national funding sources.
The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation gives families and students a choice in their educational opportunities.
The foundation’s board chairman, Kevin Short, had the foundation’s founder as his high school principal, which is how he first got involved.
“She was a big mentor to me in my career,” Short says. “About 10 years ago, she suggested I get involved. It really hit home for me.”
Short lives in the city and says he sees the results of children not getting a good education every day. However, the foundation’s funds and scholarships can combat those effects.
“Ten years ago, we were raising $350,000,” Short says. “Today, it’s $12 million annually.”
The foundation provides tuition for about 4,200 students currently. For 2015, it enjoyed a number of “success stats,” including the following: 100 percent of recipients have graduated from the eighth grade; 97 percent have graduated from high school; 93 percent have been accepted into college-preparatory high schools; 84 percent have attended college-prep high schools; and 100 percent are accepted into postsecondary education schools.
“We hear from parents that the earlier they can get their kids in [a good school], those children will be able to graduate from high school and go to college because they’re prepared,” Short says.
Brothers Tom and Tim Danis have supported a variety of organizations and educational institutions over many years, so their involvement with the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation came naturally.
“I was an educator in Catholic elementary schools,” Tom says. “There was a strong sense of appreciation for the education I received.”
He says that alternative educational choices are important to an urban community. The foundation helps provide stability to neighborhoods and the kids that inhabit them.
Tim echoes Tom’s sentiments and says that his parochial education was important for his growth and development as a young man.
“If we can in a small way be helpful and help other people experience the same thing, it’s a tremendous asset for the St. Louis community,” he says.
Board member Pat Sly has been involved with the foundation for more than 12 years and strongly values underserved education.
“What really interested me [when I joined] was the value of faith-based education, especially in the city and in some of our underserved areas,” he says. “It’s not just the educational aspect, but the importance of keeping these schools open for stability in neighborhoods.”
Sly says Short’s involvement as chairman has been extremely important to drawing attention to the foundation, and they’ve been able to expand their scholarships and take on development responsibility for Cardinal Ritter College Prep.
“That’s been really important to us,” he says. “We hope to continue to expand and help many more kids in poverty have options for an excellent education.”
Board member and Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging CEO Dave Spence says he sees kids get left behind in other school systems, and it’s something the foundation is working to combat.
“The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation fills a void,” he says. “It’s a wonderful organization, and the results are exemplary.”
Board treasurer Mike Mooney got involved because he wanted to help change the lives of local kids, and the best way he saw fit to do that was to help the schools for inner-city kids. He stands behind the belief that if young students get a good education at a young age, they’ll be able to get into a good high school and be on the road to success.
“We’ve tracked our scholarship recipients from the grade school system to St. Louis University High, Christian Brothers College High School, Lutheran High School South, Lutheran High School North and many more,” he says. “They’re succeeding there and succeeding in college. That’s how you break the cycle of poverty.”
Mooney says he’s loved watching the foundation grow and continue to do astounding work.
“I can’t think of any other place I’d rather spend time and effort,” he says. “It’s so great to be able to see positive, measurable results.”
20 Archbishop May Drive, St. Louis | 314-792-7621| archstl.org/ttef