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Description and Goal

A Board of Directors with Jim Kelly as president governs this non-profit foundation. No Board members are salaried and no children of Board members are eligible for scholarship funds. 

The Scholarship Fund is available to families who experience a life-changing event (death, disability, etc.) who could not continue their child's private education without assistance.

Scholarship awards are based primarily on financial need as reported by the Private School Aid Service (PSAS) or FACTS application. Families complete this PSAS/FACTS application and a Karen Carns Scholarship Application and submit both to the Business Office of their school. After need is established by the impartiality of the PSAS/FACTS, consideration is given to the information provided by students, parents, and school personnel in the scholarship application. All information is held in the strictest confidence.

Students must be in good standing at their present schools to be eligible for an award.

The goal of the Karen Carns Foundation Board is that there will never be a student denied continuation of a private elementary or secondary school education due to life-changing events that affect the family's financial situation. We know that death, disability, and unforeseen life-changing events can have an unexpected impact on the educational plans we parents have for our children. The Foundation stands ready to provide assistance should these events occur.


Karen’s father became extremely ill and was unable to work during her senior year in a Catholic high school. Through the kindness of an anonymous donor, funds were available to ease the situations of deserving students whose families were undergoing life-changing crises. Karen was chosen as one of these students and she never forgot this gift.

Karen’s dream was that no student be denied a private secondary school education due to financial reasons. Karen’s work began after listening to parents in a small Catholic parish express concern that the ever-rising costs of Catholic education would prevent many students from continuing their Catholic education after leaving the parish elementary school. Karen and her husband Tom proposed using the annual parish golf outing to start a "scholarship fund" which would provide monetary awards to students demonstrating Christian values, academic diligence, and financial need. 

Doug Pelfrey, Cincinnati Bengal kicker, was the first honorary chairman of the golf tournament in 1999. The goal that first year was to raise $7,500 for the newly formed Saint Bernadette Scholarship Fund. Through private donations, raffle ticket sales, silent auctions, and the golf outing, volunteers raised over $17,000.

Although the golf outing was canceled in 2001 due to its close timing to Karen’s death, $20,000 was still disbursed in June 2002 to students attending private high schools who demonstrate financial need. This disbursement was possible due to the widespread support the Foundation received from diverse groups and the over 100 memorial donations given in Karen’s name.

To honor Karen as one of the founders and board members of the scholarship fund, and certainly as its inspiration, the Board members at the time, unanimously approved that the fund be re-named the Karen Carns Scholarship Fund. 


The Karen Carns Foundation has provided over $2.65 million in tuition assistance since its inception.

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