Pacelli receives first million dollar gift

Published 9:13 pm Friday, December 17, 2021

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Merry Christmas Pacelli Catholic Schools.

Pacelli Catholic School received a $1 million gift from Steve Wiggins of the Pacelli class of 1974, the largest gift the school has received in its 108 year history. 

The gift was made through the Wiggins Foundation to create new technology capabilities for students and add additional scholarships for low-income families. 

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“Mr. Wiggins’ gift will strengthen Pacelli’s curriculum and help get our students ready for tomorrow’s workforce and give financial help to those in need to attend Pacelli,” said Pacelli Principal Kane Malo, in a press release Friday. 

The gift is intended to expand and strengthen the teaching of practical software and computer skills and to supplement existing science, technology, and math curriculum. The intention is to assure that Pacelli students receive training and support that can have a direct and immediate impact on their educational and vocational opportunities after graduating. 

Because of this generous gift, Pacelli’s STEM programs will be a leader in the area. Technology and science are critical for solving the world’s most challenging issues and Pacelli students will be well equipped to be future leaders. 

The Wiggins Family Scholarship Fund will also be established to offer financial aid to low-income students. All students deserve access to high quality education and this gift will allow more low-income students to enroll at Pacelli. 

“The generosity of Mr. Wiggins and his family, shows their belief in Catholic education and their trust in Pacelli Catholic Schools to continue to provide a great education to families of Austin. We cannot thank Mr. Wiggins enough,”Malo said. 

Former Principal Jean McDermott will be heading up the implementation and the steering committee for this program. Pacelli is collaborating with Riverland Community College to offer a technology tract starting with high school sophomores to gain a certificate in Computer Applications, Web App Development, or Web Game Design. This program will be completed at

Pacelli in a new technology lab. Open all day, students will have access to the needed technology and support staff who will help students adjust to online learning and learn time management. 

This gift will also allow for upgrades on current science suites at Pacelli and expand the STEM curriculum as early as kindergarten. This will improve upon the existing STEM programs, the work of the seventh grade coding class, and introduction of STEM at the elementary level. As per regular review of the curriculum cycle scheduled for this year, this gift will allow Pacelli to enhance math curriculum in line with the new programs and beyond state standards. 

Wiggins was one of six children of Tony and Rosie Wiggins to attend the former St. Augustine elementary school and then Pacelli High School. He later received a BA from Macalester College and a Masters degree in Business Administration from Harvard University. He founded Accessible Space in 1978 after his close friend and Pacelli classmate was paralyzed in a diving accident. 

Accessible Space has grown to over 140 residential facilities for physically disabled and brain injured adults. ASI is a non-profit organization that is currently headed by Austin native Steve (Shep) Vander Schaaf, a lifelong best friend of Steve’s. Wiggins remains a board member and supporter of A.S.I. 

Wiggins later founded and built seven separate businesses, including Oxford Health Plans, which became the largest health plan in metropolitan New York City and grew to rank as the 267th largest U.S. company. He subsequently founded other health care ventures including Remedy Partners, which is now a public company called Signify Health. 

Notably, two of Wiggins’ sisters, Mary Liz (Miz) and Casey have produced multiple albums of their original music. Many of their songs have references to their Minnesota roots in Austin. Their music can be found on Spotify or simply by searching for ‘Wiggins Sisters’ online.