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Catholic School Advantage

The Gifts We Didn't Know We Were Missing

on Wednesday, 01 February 2017.

Kalamazoo St.Augustine 1

The Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI), as implied by the very name of the program, began as an enrollment-based initiative. As Catholic schools around the country were seeing their numbers diminish – and in many unfortunate cases even close – reaching out to the Latino population was a perfect way to sustain enrollment in Catholic schools while serving a segment of the population that had been largely underserved in traditional public schools.

For the most part, the reality of the Catholic schools that have attended the LEI over the years has been one of enrollment crisis. Many Catholic schools affected by the economic downturn and changing demographics were struggling to remain viable, and the LEI has been an opportunity to alter their course – or at least their way of doing certain things –  and to reach out to an untapped population springing up around them.

But while many of the schools that have attended the LEI over the years have done so out of necessity, Andra Zommers, principal of St. Augustine Cathedral School in Kalamazoo, Michigan, came to the LEI from a different reality. In her reflection below, Andra provides a beautiful testimonial that illustrates how the Latino Enrollment Institute is about more than just increasing school enrollments. 

In First Year at the LEI, Arkansas Catholic Schools Off to a Strong Start

Written by Steve McClure on Wednesday, 01 February 2017.

LittleRock ImmaculateConception 5As the geographic footprint of the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) expands, many Catholic schools in never-before-represented dioceses now serve as models of transformation and growth with regards to Latino outreach. The three Catholic schools from the Diocese of Little Rock that attended the LEI in the summer of 2016 are one such example. St. Theresa, Immaculate Conception, and St. Vincent de Paul Schools in Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Rogers, Arkansas, respectively, were the first to represent their diocese at the LEI and all experienced notable increases in both overall and Latino enrollment in a relatively short time.

The state of Arkansas, although it falls outside of even the top half of U.S. states in Latino population as a percentage of total state population, is a seemingly ideal environment for the recruitment of Latino families to Catholic schools as it ranks sixth in Latino population growth between 2000 and 2014. The three Diocese of Little Rock schools that attended the LEI last summer validated this assumption by welcoming nearly 100 new Latino students – a 50 percent increase – across the three schools by the start of the academic year.

To see such an impact in enrollment so shortly after attending the LEI, especially in three schools from a previously unrepresented diocese, is actually quite rare. And whether it be attributed to demographics, the school leaders themselves, or the LEI – all of which undoubtedly had a hand in this recent growth – they also serve as a testament to one simple lesson that we’ve seen time and time again in LEI schools across the country: It’s all about relationships. 


LEI Schools Celebrate Catholic Schools Week

Written by Manny Fernandez on Wednesday, 01 February 2017.

LEI Schools Celebrate Catholic Schools Week

This week, Catholic school communities across the country have been celebrating the beautiful gift of Catholic education. While most schools use this opportunity to host various events, special liturgies, and fun activities for students and families, we were particularly interested in how some of the schools that are members of the Latino Enrollment Institute have been celebrating.

Here is what some of our school leaders had to say about the festivities taking place at their schools this week: 

A Handshake and A Rose

Matt Rhodes on Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

Patrick Jefferies St. Andrew A Handshake and a RosePhoto from

When Patrick Jefferies became principal at St. Andrew Catholic School outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, he made a commitment to foster a hospitable school environment for all who set foot inside the school, whether they be students, teachers, staff members, parents or visitors. One of Patrick’s first steps was to attend ACE’s 2015 Latino Enrollment Institute, a program that seeks to transform Catholic schools with open seats, favorable demographic potential, and motivated individuals by teaching them how to attract and serve Latino students more effectively.  

Divine Intervention and a Principal's Passion Save School

Written by Steve McClure on Friday, 18 November 2016.


Twelve years ago, it took a miracle to keep the doors of Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School in East Harlem open. But the school’s providential reprieve from its impending closure was far from the end of the journey. Granted a second chance, Principal Suzanne Kaszynski, at the time in only her second year at the helm, realized that she and her staff would need to radically transform Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School from the inside out.

Recognizing that what her classrooms lacked was joy, she decided to incorporate a passion of her own into the school and to build programs around it. By establishing a culture of success, implementing a whole host of extra-curricular activities, reaching out to the surrounding Latino community, and with the help of the Partnership for Inner City Education, Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary started to gain much greater visibility both within New York City and beyond.

Today, Suzanne serves as a mentor principal for the Latino Enrollment Institute, helping other Catholic school leaders find their niche and transform the culture of their schools. Watch her whole story below.


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