Scholarship Applications Deadline Feb. 29, 2024

VENICE  |Bob Reddy  Do you have a high school senior graduating this year, and pursuing further education, or someone in your family thinking of returning to school? The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida has opened the 2024-25 online scholarship applications. 

There are currently five different scholarships available from the foundation. Applications close on Feb. 29, 2024.

The Mary Fran Carroll Scholarship is available again this year for residents of Sarasota County. There are two versions of this scholarship. The traditional scholarship is for students who are graduating high school in 2024 or graduated in 2023. The non-traditional scholarship is for those who have been out of school for three-plus years with difficult financial circumstances that prohibited them from pursuing their educational objectives immediately after high school. This year, the foundation will be awarding multiple $3,500 annual Mary Fran Carroll scholarships which each have a renewable worth of $17,500 over five years. The traditional and non-traditional scholarship can both be used for tuition, books and fees at an accredited college, university, or vocational program.

“During the past 10 years, the Catholic Community Foundation has awarded more than $687,000 in scholarships to 131 students attending universities, colleges, and vocational programs,” said Michael Morse, executive director of the foundation. “In addition, millions of dollars have been provided to the Catholic Schools within the Diocese of Venice from Foundation endowment funds, donor advised funds, and outright donations for scholarships and tuition assistance for needy students.”

In addition to the Mary Fran Carroll Scholarships, the Foundation is offering:

• The Frank and Florence Coseglia Scholarship, which provides a one-time scholarship of approximately $1,100 to one financially needy college-bound student graduating from each of the four Catholic High Schools within the Diocese of Venice. 

• The James & Margaret Schwarz Scholarship, for a graduating senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota who is interested in pursuing a career in education. This year, the foundation will be awarding a single academic scholarship of approximately $7,500.

• The Frederick Schaerf M.D., Ph. D. Neuroscience Scholarship, for students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, who are interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience or similar field. This year, the foundation will be awarding a single $4,000 academic scholarship.

All applications and supporting documents for each of the scholarships must be submitted electronically by no later than Feb. 29, 2024. To find out which Catholic Community Foundation scholarship you qualify for, visit

Fl Catholic Article written by Bob Reddy – Diocese of Venice Communications

The Catholic Community Foundation Presents 23 Scholarships


VENICE  |  Bishop Frank J. Dewane, joined by Board members of the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc., honored 23 scholarship winners during a ceremony May 19, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall in Venice.

The recipients of the Mary Fran Carroll, Coseglia, Schaerf, Toner, Schwarz and Carey Scholarships were recognized for their outstanding academic achievements and for their commitment to continuing their education in pursuit of wide-ranging career paths such as education, medicine, business, engineering and more. The Foundation Scholarship Committee carefully reviewed 91 applications before determining the winners. Many of the Foundation Board members were present for the luncheon.

Ava Shields, a recent Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School graduate, thanks the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida, Inc., and its board for awarding her a scholarship during a May 18, 2023, luncheon at Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall, Venice.

Bishop Dewane opened the presentation with prayer and said he was impressed with the new Foundation scholars, noting their academic success and ambition to seek out distinctive goals. “God has blessed you each with different gifts. Enjoy what you are going to do but keep an eye on that goal of living your faith.”

Michael Morse, Executive Director of the Catholic Community Foundation, congratulated the new scholars, saying the young men and women are worthy to forever be known as Foundation Scholars.

“We do a lot of things at the Foundation and an important component is that our donors decide where every single dollar goes,” Morse said. “Our donors do it because they believe in a lot of things. Most importantly, they believe in the next generation. After meeting you and reading the applications and learning what you want to do, the impact you’ve already had – not just on your community, but in your parishes and  families — it fills (myself and the Foundation Scholarship Committee) with hope. You, as the next generation, are wonderful.”

Ava Shields, the James and Margaret Schwarz Scholar, graduated from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High in Sarasota and said she is choosing to study education at Florida Atlantic University because during her senior year she worked with fifth and eighth grade students at Incarnation Catholic School. “Before I did that, I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher. It took that internship to realize that. I’m super excited to go out and become a teacher and to change lives the way other teachers have helped change mine.”

Jacob Roberts, of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, was named one of four Frank and Florence Coseglia Memorial Scholars. He will attend the University of Central Florida in the fall to study computer science. He applied for the scholarship because he has always been involved in the Hispanic community at St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, speaking at Spanish Mass and much more. “I always wanted to be someone who gives back to the community, especially when the hurricane (Ian) struck. It made me realize I want to be someone who pushes his vision forward and helps other people. I am studying computer science in order to give back to the community that raised me, thanks to the faith I was able to build upon in my life.”

Mary Fran Carroll Scholar Paige Singleton, a graduate of Venice High School who will be studying forestry and environmental biology at Whitman College in Walla-Walla, Washington, thanked the Foundation for the scholarship and said her goal in life is to help the environment. “I chose this career path because I love the environment. I want to spend my life protecting this beautiful world so everyone can enjoy it as much as I have.”

The Mary Fran Carroll Scholarship provides a total of 15 academic scholarships to residents of Sarasota County and is available for tuition, books and fees. This year there were 14 traditional scholarship winners (high school graduates pursuing an undergraduate degree) and one non-traditional winner (an adult learner seeking an advanced education after being away from school for a number of years). The scholarship is renewable annually up to a total of five academic years for students maintaining a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.2 or greater, while also making progress toward their career goal. In the past year, many students had their scholarship renewed.

The Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship provides a one-time scholarship to a graduating senior from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience or similar field. This was the fourth year the scholarship was offered.

The Coseglia Scholarship provides a one-time scholarship to one financially needy graduating senior from each of the four Catholic High Schools within the Diocese of Venice. The winners were nominated by their high schools and approved by the Foundation Board.

The Schwarz Scholarship is a one-time college scholarship to be awarded for tuition, books, fees, and housing expenses for a student graduating from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota. 

The Foundation also presented the Barry L. Carey M.D. Scholarship, which provides a renewable college scholarship for tuition, books, fees, and housing expenses to practicing Catholic high school seniors graduating this year from Catholic, private, home school, or public schools within the 10 counties of the Diocese of Venice. In addition, scholarship recipients must be the first generation in their family to attend a college or university. 

Meanwhile, the Dr. Steve Toner Math Award Scholarship provides one non-renewable scholarship to a student graduating from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples who is interested in pursuing a career is science, technology, engineering or math.

During the scholarship ceremony, the recipients shared their personal experiences as well as college and career goals. Each expressed their appreciation for the scholarship from the Foundation. Many specifically explained how the scholarship money will assist in lessening the financial burden of attending college and pursuing their career goals. In total, the Foundation will have awarded $167,900 in scholarships for 2023 (this includes both new winners and renewals).).

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. was established to provide philanthropic opportunities for individuals, such as Mary Fran Carroll, to create lasting gifts in support of Catholic programs and ministries within the Diocese of Venice. This year, the Foundation is on track to distribute $3.5 million in endowed support for Catholic Schools, Parishes, Seminarian education, programs for the needy, college scholarships and more.

To learn more about the Catholic Community Foundation, contact Michael Morse at 941-441-1124 or by email at, or visit

Bishop Frank J. Dewane and the board of the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida, Inc., are seen with scholarship recipients during a May 18, 2023, luncheon at Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall, Venice.


2023 Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida, Inc. Scholars

Mary Fran Carroll Scholars — traditional

Paxton Barrick, Venice High School, University of Florida;

Aiden Ericson, Venice High School (2022), University of Florida;

Natalie Kisgen, Venice High School, University of Florida;

Rebekah Kertz, Venice High School (2021), University of Florida;

Christian Mendez, Venice High School, Florida Polytechnic University;

Paige Singleton, Venice High School, Whitman College;

Ella Smith, Venice High School, Lehigh University;

Stephen Akers, Venice High School, Belmont Abbey College;

Nicolas Cox, Sarasota High School, University of Florida;

Alyssa Collier, Riverview High School, University of Florida;

David Williams, Venice High School, University of Central Florida;

Marina Berardi, Venice High School, Ringling College of Art and Design;

William Martin, Venice High School (2022), University of Central Florida;

Kiersten Rau, Venice High School, Michigan State University.

Mary Fran Carroll Scholars — non-traditional

Karla King, University of South Florida.

Frank and Florence Coseglia Memorial Scholarship

Celeste Harrell, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, University of Florida;

Serene Aviles, St. John Neumann Catholic High School, University of Florida;

Michael Long Jr., Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria University;

Jacob Roberts, Bishop Verot Catholic High School, University of Central Florida.

Barry L. Carey, M.D. Scholarship

Andres Plata, Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School, Ave Maria University.

James and Margaret Schwarz Scholarship

Ava Shields, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Florida Atlantic University.

Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship

Audrianna Larrea, Bishop Verot Catholic High School, University of Florida.

Dr. Steve Toner Math Award

Tye Phoenix, St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Catholic Donor Advised Funds

A Catholic Donor Advised Fund is a Great Way to Support Your Favorite Catholic Programs and Ministries

By Michael Morse, Executive Director, Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida.

            Donor Advised Funds, or DAFs, have been around for quite a while, but more and more people have been hearing about them over the past few years.  In fact, you may have already asked yourself, “What exactly is a DAF and is it right for me?” Simply put, a DAF helps individuals and families manage their charitable donations in a simple and easy manner.  It’s your “Charitable Checkbook.” 

DAFs are like charitable checkbooks because they provide a flexible way for donors to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax deduction for the maximum allowable amount and then recommend grants from the fund to various charitable entities whenever they want.  Donors can contribute to their fund as frequently as they like and can even choose to deposit their fund in the Foundation’s investment pool and have it potentially grow tax free.

DAFs are simpler and more cost effective than creating a private foundation, can allow you to remain anonymous and protect your privacy when supporting a charity, and can help establish the spirit of generational giving within families.  Unlike private or family foundations, there are no minimum annual distributions, no staffing or legal fees, no annual tax filing requirements, and no heavy regulations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Many people began using DAFs when the IRS nearly doubled the standard deduction in 2017 in order to take advantage of a tax strategy called “charitable bunching.”  Bunching is when you combine multiple years of charitable giving into your DAF in a single year so that you can itemize your tax deductions in that year and take the standard deduction in the following years, thus maximizing your tax savings.  You then use your DAF to make all of your charitable donations in the following years.

            Now is a great time for Catholics within the Diocese of Venice in Florida to open Donor Advised Funds with the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida because there is currently no minimum amount required to start a fund.  Additionally, donors can be certain that no funds will ever be used by the Foundation to support entities or causes that are not in keeping with our Catholic Faith.

Donors that open DAFs with the Foundation are able to support any Catholic entity within the United States or any other qualified social-service or pro-life charity within the United States whose mission is in alignment with the teachings of the Catholic Church.  In addition, they can choose to invest their DAF in a Catholic-screened portfolio.  Which means the Foundation avoids investments in companies with business practices, products or services contrary to our Catholic Faith.

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida began operating in 2004 as an independent 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that works with all the Parishes, Schools and Catholic entities within the Diocese of Venice.  The Foundation provides the tools and resources to help Faith-filled donors provide long-term support to the Catholic entities of their choice.  Last year alone, the Foundation distributed more than $5.2 million in support throughout the Diocese and beyond thanks to the generosity of so many Catholic donors.

If you would like to learn more about creating a donor-advised fund with the Catholic Community Foundation, or if you would like to learn more about other gifting options, please contact Michael Morse at 941-441-1124 or

2021 – 2022 Annual Report

Catholic Declaration on Life and Death Advanced Directive


Life Planning Workshops Coming Your Way Soon

Life Planning Workshops

On far too many occasions, individuals and families wonder and worry about some very important questions regarding their futures.  Who will make my healthcare and financial decisions when I cannot speak for myself?  How do I make healthcare and financial decisions for a love one?  Is my will or trust from another state valid in Florida?  Who will care for my children if something happens to me?  What will happen to my assets after I die?  Do I want the government making these decisions for me?


If you and your family members do not know the answer to these questions, you can find them out by attending one of the many free “Planning for Tomorrow” workshops and education sessions presented by the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida.


The Foundation is once again partnering with Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice to host complimentary workshops and free one-on-one educations sessions to provide participants with the knowledge needed to make critical health, legal, and financial decisions for themselves and/or a loved one.


Attendees will obtain important information on:


To find the closest workshop or education session to you, or to reserve your place, please call 941-486-4722 or email


Qualified Charitable Distributions – A Real Life Example

A Real Life Example

If you have reached the age that you must take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from your IRA, did you know that you can transfer up to $100,000 each year from your IRA directly to a qualified charity like the Catholic Community Foundation, your Parish, School or other Catholic Program or Ministry?  By rolling over your IRA distribution directly to a charity, it qualifies as your RMD and you avoid having to include the distribution as taxable income.  Beginning in 2020, the age at which RMDs must start is 72, however, individuals can begin making Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) from their IRAs as early as age 70½.


Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) provide a powerful opportunity for donors from all income levels to support the Catholic Parishes, Schools and Ministries about which they care most.  Some of today’s retirees have more money in their IRAs than they need for daily living expenses and/or their long-term care.  They are able use the surplus in their IRAS to help make a significant difference in the lives of others, without negatively impacting their own quality of life.  Other retirees with more modest incomes, like Mike and Ronda, can also benefit from QCDs.



Mike and Ronda are both retired Catholic School teachers and have always been loyal

supporters of their Parish, contributing their time, talent, and treasure on a regular basis. In addition to their other retirement income, they have two small traditional IRAs, from which they are required to take $1,000 per year as their Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). Since they pay 10% income tax in their retirement, they are bringing home a total of $900 per year from their IRAs after taxes. Simply by having their IRA custodian transfer the full $1,000 RMD directly to their Parish instead of receiving the distribution themselves, they will receive the following benefits:


By using QCDs for their charitable giving, donors like Mike and Ronda can decide each year if and/or how much of their RMD they would like to use.  In fact, they can distribute up to $100,000 each calendar year from their respective IRAs regardless of the size of their RMDs. They can even decide to support multiple charities from the same IRA.  However, they must make sure that donations are dispersed from their IRA directly to a qualified charity to qualify for the tax benefits.


To learn more about Qualified Charitable Distributions, please use your smartphone to scan the QR Code  or visit



Have You Left Your Parish in Your Will or Trust?

A bequest is one of the easiest gifts you can make while also being one of the best ways to support the long-term sustainability of your Parish.  With the help of an advisor, you can include language in your will or trust specifying the gift you would like to make as part of your estate plan.  A bequest can be made in several ways including a specific dollar amount or asset, a percentage of the total estate, or the balance or residue of the estate.

You can also name your Parish as the beneficiary on various accounts and assets like life insurance policies, IRAs, 401(k)s, bank accounts and more.

The Catholic Community Foundation of SW Florida has a new Legacy Giving form that you can fill out to let your Parish, School or favorite Catholic entity know that you have named them in your will or trust or as a beneficiary.  This form can be found at


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