Imagination Behind CCF

Among the many who have contributed to the Catholic Community Foundation’s (CCF) success, the Rauenhorst family occupies a unique place in CCF’s history that mirrors their leadership in the world of Catholic philanthropy.

Gerald Rauenhorst (1927 – 2014), founder of The OPUS Group, shared his vision for how a Catholic foundation could work and ultimately helped shape what it became. He advocated for a community foundation that would operate independent of the Archdiocese, an uncommon approach at the time.

Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst on their first date at St. Thomas’ Tiger Homecoming Dance.

Imagining what could be is integral to Rauenhorst philanthropy. Karen Rauenhorst, Gerald’s daughter-in-law, remembers family gatherings where the conversation centered around the work of foundations and what was happening in the community. “It was something I always enjoyed,” she says. “It’s how I got involved in philanthropy.”

Karen joined CCF’s board of directors in its second year of operation. The focus at the time was on growing the Foundation. “In the early days, it was all about boots on the ground and getting people to put resources into donor advised funds,” Karen recalls. It was such a new idea that even convincing Catholic-led organizations to invest was a challenge. But dollar by dollar, CCF’s resources grew.

Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst meeting with Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 1981.

Over the years, the Foundation established itself as a hub for Catholic donors, creating strong partnerships with parishes, charities, and investment services that give donors more choices for impactful giving.

Amy Goldman, the youngest of Gerald and Henrietta’s children, is CEO of GHR Foundation, a private foundation endowed by the couple. GHR collaborates with CCF to support Catholic schools serving low-income youth, which Amy believes have a role to play in closing the achievement gap. “CCF brings Catholic voices and Catholic concerns to challenges within the broader community,” Amy explains. “They’re harnessing the collective power of donors and working with partners to achieve things that individual donors couldn’t do on their own.”

Karen Rauenhorst also partners with CCF through her work with the Aim Higher Foundation, which also supports student access to Catholic education. “CCF can bring people to the table,” Karen observed. “They understand the needs in the community and how to address them.”

At a time when news reports about the Church can be disheartening, both Amy and Karen agree that CCF gives Catholics a reason to hold their heads high. “CCF can really shine a light on all the incredible community service that’s been inspired by Catholic social teaching,” Amy says.

Karen credits Gerald and his fellow visionaries for coming up with a model that works. “Gerry recognized that this foundation has to be collaborative and independent, and it must respect donor intent.”

Amy thinks her father would be pleased to see the Foundation’s progress after 25 years. “His intention was that the Catholic community be galvanized to make a difference, not just for Catholics, but for everyone. And that’s what CCF is doing.”

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