In response to national data suggesting Latinos are both the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. Catholic Church and the most underserved by Catholic schools, the University of Notre Dame's Catholic School Advantage program founded the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) in 2012. This initiative identifies and assists Catholic schools with substantial unmet capacity (open seats), favorable demographic potential—namely, a growing number of Latino families in the surrounding area—and motivated principals by offering a framework to transform schools in order to attract and serve Latino families.
The LEI was predicated on the idea that the principal is the single most important lever for change in a school, whether it be in establishing an environment that is culturally responsive to Latino families, implementing strategic marketing and recruitment efforts to boost Latino enrollment, or simply assembling the right team capable of carrying out these efforts. The principal’s capacity to implement important and lasting changes, however, is accentuated by the support of the pastor and key members of his/her staff and faculty. Thus, the LEI invites school teams, comprised of the principal and one other staff/faculty member, to attend the summer institute. A third spot is reserved for the pastor of each eligible school, at no additional charge, should he choose to attend as well. Experience shows that schools with collaborative principals and pastors who are equally engaged in this mission to welcome and serve Latino families are more effective, and dramatic gains can ensue.
In addition to the summer program, each principal is placed on a small team of four or five other principals in a cohort model and meet monthly via Zoom over the course of the year. Principal teams, facilitated by a coach from the LEI leadership team, will work through a series of modules made available online each month. These modules are an opportunity to dive deeper into many of the topics and ideas presented at the summer conference, as well as to discuss any challenges, successes, and best practices with other principals engaged in the same mission.The LEI summer conference features presentations and lectures from school leaders with demonstrated success in implementing innovative Latino outreach strategies. The presenters, most of whom are either current or retired Catholic school principals, have years of experience serving culturally and linguistically diverse student populations, and provide authentic witness to the notion that a Catholic school's success is not dependent on the abundance of resources that it brings to bear, but rather on the authenticity and vigor with which it develops fresh and imaginative ways to carry out its mission.
Among the topics discussed at the LEI summer conference are:
- Developing a deeper understanding of Latino cultures and traditions
- Intercultural competency and what it means for your school
- Cultural influences in the lives of children and how to create culturally sustaining classrooms and schools
- How to enlist faculty, staff, and parents to reach out personally to Latino families and invite them to Catholic schools
- Rethinking fundraising: strategies for cultivating and maintaining private and corporate donors
- Bright spots: a look at specific schools that have been intentional in their outreach to Latino communities and have experienced tremendous growth, not only in enrollment, but as a community
- English as a New Language: developing a deeper understanding of the process of language acquisition in order to ensure that English language learners thrive in your school
Benefits for schools and school leaders who attend the LEI:
- Enrollment growth: schools experience, on average, a 33% increase in Latino enrollment after just one year
- Access to a support network—LEI coaches—of Catholic school leaders with first-hand experience transforming their schools through intentional Latino outreach
- Connections with other schools and school leaders across the country who are engaged in the same mission
- Access to online modules providing tangible ideas and proven strategies for serving culturally and linguistically diverse student populations
Thanks to philanthropic support, the cost to schools for participation in the LEI is $950 per school, which includes lodging, meals, and materials at the summer institute for two people (three if the pastor chooses to attend). Also included in this cost is the ongoing support of an LEI coach via monthly Zoom calls, access to online monthly modules, and a mid-year follow-up gathering of principals in the cohort.
Please note, schools have been successful in securing and allocating Title II and III funding to underwrite these offerings. For more information, contact Manny Fernandez at or 574-631-9434.
Currently Accepting Applications for the 2019-20 School Year
Thank you for your interest in the Latino Enrollment Institute. The program dates for Cohort 8 of the LEI are as follows:
- November 15, 2018: Application opens
- January 31, 2019: Application deadline
- February 15, 2019: Notification of acceptance deadline
- June 16-19, 2019: LEI summer conference at Notre Dame
- Can I use Title funds to pay the registration fee?
Yes, we strongly encourage schools to access Title II (professional development) and Title III (English language learners) funds to defray the cost of participating in the LEI. Once a school is accepted, we can, upon request, send the principal an invoice and an agenda that will satisfy the local education agencies (LEAs).
- What do you look for in school candidates?
The LEI team typically looks for schools with a motivated principal, substantial unmet capacity (empty seats), and favorable demograpic potential, i.e., a growing Latino population in the surrounding area.
- Who should I bring with me to the summer conference?
Since a principal's capacity to implement important and lasting changes is often accentuated by the support of a staff/faculty member with whom he or she works closely, we ask that you thoughtfully consider who you choose to attend the summer conference with you. Below are a few suggestions. As a reminder, the $850 fee includes acccommodations, meals, and materials at the summer institute for two people (three if the third person is the school pastor — please see question 5).
- Secretary / Front Office Manager
- Enrollment and Marketing Coordinator
- Business Manager
- School Board Member
- Parent Volunteer / madrina
- I am not a principal. Can I attend the LEI in in place of my principal?
Our experience has shown that the principal is often the most important lever for change in a school. Thus, for a school to be eligible to participate in the LEI, the principal must commit to attending the summer conference and taking part in all follow-up activities.
We understand that high schools often have a different organizational structure than elementary schools, and the principal may not, in fact, be the person to enact many of the strategies presented at the LEI. While we still strongly encourage the principal to attend, if he/she elects another leader in the school to take on this initiative, who has the proper authority to carry out various activities identified in the action plan, it may be possible for that person to attend in place of the principal.
- I would like to attend the summer conference, but I do not want to participate in the online modules and the monthly video calls with the team and the LEI coach. Can I still come to the LEI?
Unfortunately, no. The follow-up aspect of our program is essential to growing Latino enrollment and serving the needs of Latino students. The CSA offers another conference, Adelante, that might be a better fit for principals not desiring any follow-up.
- I am not a principal, but I am still very interested in learning how to more effectively engage Latino families in our Catholic school community. Can I still participate in the LEI?
Because the LEI is specifically geared towards implementing school-level change, only school applications, in which the principal agrees to the aforementioned guidelines, will be considered.
Individuals interested in attending a conference focused on many of the same themes as the LEI, and who are not able to apply with a school team, may consider attending Adelante.
- What is the application timeline?
The application period is from November 15, 2018, to January 31, 2019. Participants will be accepted and notified on a rolling basis. The final date by which all applicants will be notified is February 15, 2019.
- What is the closest airport to the University of Notre Dame?
The closest airport is South Bend International Airport (SBN), which is about a 12-minute cab ride to the University of Notre Dame. It is often more expensive than other major hubs, but this largely depends on where you are traveling from. Midway International Airport and O'Hare International Airport are both in Chicago, and the commute on average is about two hours. Both airports are considerably less expensive to fly into. Midway is a bit closer to campus than O'Hare, and is also the smaller of the two airports.
- What are the accommodations like?
Participants stay in an air-conditioned residence hall on campus at the University of Notre Dame. All rooms are single occupancy with a sink, while the bathrooms and showers are shared and gender-specific by floor.
If you have any further questions, please contact Manny Fernandez at or 574-631-9434.
The Catholic School Advantage (CSA), of which the Latino Enrollment Institute constitutes one outreach effort, also hosts a summer conference, Adelante, geared toward individuals (superintendents, teachers, (arch)diocesan outreach coordinators, etc.) June 30 - July 2, 2019, and applications open on October 15, 2018. Additional information will be posted as the date approaches.