Archbishop’s gala to aid Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation scholarships

Former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett, who served on the cabinets of two presidents, will be the featured speaker at the Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Gala benefiting the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation.

The gala will be Tuesday, April 19, at the Ritz Carlton in Clayton, starting at 7 p.m. (cocktails at 6 p.m.) The event raises funds for TTEF scholarships, including Help For Today, Hope For Tomorrow scholarships.

The event last year, featuring native St. Louisan Cardinal Timothy Dolan, raised more than $800,000, making it "our biggest and best-ever," said TTEF executive directer Sharon Gerken, who praised and thanked Archbishop Carlson and Cardinal Dolan "for their teamwork and camaraderie."

Dolan helped draw 625 people to the Gala, but attendance this year is expected to be in the 450 range, with a goal of raising $700,000 for scholarships. A nationally known personality such as Bennett should help in that regard.

Bennett served on the cabinets of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and the Washington Speakers Bureau calls him "one of America's most important, influential and respected voices on cultural, political, and education issues." With a doctorate degree in philosophy from the University of Texas and a law degree from Harvard, he's the Washington fellow of the Claremont Institute and a senior advisor to Project Lead The Way, a national leader in STEM education, and serves on a number of other advisory boards. He also is senior correspondent for "Making America Work," in which he interviews business owners and entrepreneurs. He's written or co-authored more than 25 books; his latest effort is "Tried by Fire," in which he covers the rise and influence of Christianity across the globe.

"People know him and definitely want to hear him," Gerken said.

Bennett is the draw, but the focus of the Gala is on students who benefit from scholarships funded by the Gala.

"They help kids have a choice in elementary education," Gerken said. "Our Church and our archdiocese are committed to Catholic education. Almost 4,500 students, through the goodness of people in the community, are receiving an education they otherwise wouldn't have." 

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