The Catholic School Advantage
The Campaign to Improve Educational Opportunities for Latino Children
On December 12, 2008, the University of Notre Dame commissioned the Notre Dame Task Force on the Participation of Latino Children and Families in Catholic Schools. The purpose of this task force was to explore the issues surrounding the Latino achievement gap, the Catholic school advantage, and the demographic imperative to improve educational opportunities for Latinos. Ultimately, the work of the Task Force coalesced around a central motivating question: What can be done to narrow the achievement gap by extending the Catholic school advantage to more Latino children?
The Task Force Report, To Nurture the Soul of a Nation, published on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December of 2009, revealed that Latinos now represent approximately 70% of all practicing Catholics under the age of 35, yet only 3% of school-aged Latino children are enrolled in Catholic schools. This is particularly regrettable considering that Latino children are 40% more likely to graduate from high school and more than twice as likely to graduate from college when they attend K-12 Catholic schools.
The findings and recommendations outlined in the Task Force Report gave impetus to the Catholic School Advantage Campaign, an initiative of ACE which seeks to simultaneously close the Latino achievement gap and revitalize American Catholic schools. Designed to serve as a catalyst for a broad national effort to increase Latino enrollment in Catholic schools, the Catholic School Advantage Campaign has helped establish local initiatives throughout the country, partners with individual schools, and collaborates closely with a number of national programs.
While this campaign has continued to evolve, its mission to catalyze a vibrant national movement remains guided by two distinct objectives: to promote the unique value of Catholic schools to Latino communities and to help schools respond effectively to the unique needs of their Latino families.