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Notre Dame National Bus Tour Highlights Tucson Catholic Schools and Education Champions

on Wednesday, 07 May 2014.


Contact: Bill Schmitt, Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) /

The University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) visits Tucson on Monday, April 28, to celebrate the vital role Catholic schools play in educating children from immigrant families and impoverished communities. Since 2001, Catholic school students in Tucson have experienced amazing success from Notre Dame’s investment to enhance student learning, increase enrollment, and form talented teachers and leaders. The Notre Dame ACE Academies, two thriving inner-city schools that serve predominantly Latino students, are a showcase for how Notre Dame’s involvement, increased community support, and corporate sponsorship can provide a high quality education for students in need across the country. The schools have closed the academic achievement gap for their students in just three years.

Notre Dame’s National Bus Tour will visit the Notre Dame ACE Academies schools from April 28 to 30 to celebrate their students, teachers, leaders, and achievements, and to honor local partners and champions who have come together to build a brighter future for the children in Tucson.

At St. John the Evangelist School, ACE founder Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., will present a University of Notre Dame Sorin Award for Service to Catholic Schools to Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M. An educator for 50 years who recently announced her retirement, Sister Rosa Maria has worked tirelessly as superintendent of Tucson Catholic schools since 1998 to strengthen the viability of its 25 schools. She has amended the teacher salary scales to reflect a just wage, initiated an endowment program, and helped to catalyze the innovative, comprehensive approach which transformed two under-resourced schools on the brink of closure into the Notre Dame ACE Academies.

Father Scully will also recognize and thank AT&T for the company’s exemplary leadership in support of Tucson students. Through its contributions to the Arizona corporate tax credit scholarship fund, AT&T has provided impetus for corporate support of education opportunities benefiting families in need. More than 300 students at St. John the Evangelist and Santa Cruz—all Notre Dame ACE Academies schools—have received scholarships thanks to AT&T’s generous contribution since 2012.

At a celebration Monday evening, Father Scully will present a University of Notre Dame Champion for Education Award to Richard Brady “Buck” O'Rielly, CEO of O’Rielly Motor Company and ardent advocate for the future of Tucson. Mr. O’Rielly has served in leadership positions for Junior Achievement of Tucson, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, United Way, and the Southern Arizona Water Resource Association. A seventh-generation Tucsonan, Mr. O’Rielly has committed time and talent to the future of Tucson Catholic education, serving as a founding member of the board of directors of St. Augustine High School.

Sister Rosa Maria’s award and the AT&T presentation will take place amid the backdrop of the Bus Tour’s pep rally at St. John the Evangelist School. The school is led by a graduate of the ACE teacher and principal formation programs, Keiran Roche. A total of seven current ACE teachers serve students at St. John and other Tucson Catholic schools, and a number of ACE graduates have continued serving as teachers and leaders in these schools.

Pope Francis, in Audience with Notre Dame Leaders, Encourages University’s Support for Catholic K-12 Schools

on Thursday, 30 January 2014.

Pope Francis, speaking in Rome on Jan. 30, 2014, to a delegation from the University of Notre Dame, expressed gratitude for the University’s support of Catholic K-12 schools.

“From its founding, the University of Notre Dame has made an outstanding contribution to the Church in your country through its commitment to the religious education of the young and to serious scholarship inspired by confidence in the harmony of faith and reason in the pursuit of truth and virtue,” said the Pope, according to an English text provided by Vatican Radio.

“Conscious of the critical importance of this apostolate for the new evangelization, I express my gratitude for the commitment which the University of Notre Dame has shown over the years to supporting and strengthening Catholic elementary and secondary school education throughout the United States.”

The Pope made his remarks in Italian during an audience he granted to the Notre Dame delegation, as detailed by The National Catholic Reporter.  Pope Francis greeted Rev. John Jenkins, CSC, president of the University of Notre Dame, along with ACE founder Rev. Timothy Scully, CSC and other members of the University Board of Trustees.  In addition to creating the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), Fr. Scully is also the Hackett Family Director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives. Since the inception of ACE and the Institute, Notre Dame has reached out to ensure educational excellence and provide resources to strengthen Catholic identity and student achievements in schools, especially in service to under-resourced and the children they serve.

This meeting of the Board of Trustees in Rome coincided with the opening of the University’s new Rome Center and the granting of honorary degrees to ecumenical leaders.  Prominent among the participants in the papal audience was His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, DC.

To view video of Pope Francis' meeting with the Notre Dame delegation, please click here.

CSW pope web

Alliance for Catholic Education Secures Partnership to Build New School in Haiti

on Thursday, 19 December 2013.

The Digicel Foundation, the charitable arm of the Digicel Corporation, a major provider of mobile telecommunications services in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the South Pacific, agreed in December to partner with the Congregation of Holy Cross in Haiti to build a primary school and support facilities in the neighborhood of Tabarre in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

This project, led by the Congregation of Holy Cross and supported by the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), will create a new school in an area where few children have access to quality education. The demand for quality schools increased dramatically after 80% of schools in Port au Prince were destroyed in the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Two Boys StudyingThe CEO of the Digicel Foundation in Haiti, Sophia Stransky, confirmed this week that the Foundation, already known for its work in training teachers and building over 100 schools in Haiti, agreed to start construction soon on the new primary school in Tabarre. "Digicel is committed to providing high-quality school facilities and instruction for students," said Stransky, "and we are delighted to partner with the Congregation of Holy Cross, an educational leader with a proven record of providing Haitian students with an education that prepares them to be the citizens and scholars Haiti desperately needs." Completion of the project is expected by September 2014.

"This investment will make a life-changing difference for hundreds of children, and enable a top education provider, the Congregation of Holy Cross, to serve this community for decades to come," said Rev. Timothy Scully, CSC, founder of ACE and director of Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives. Established in Haiti in 1944, over the past 69 years Holy Cross has proven itself to be one of the most respected educational providers in the country, serving over 5,000 children in 20 schools located in some of the poorest communities in Haiti.

"We are deeply grateful to the Digicel Foundation for its dedication to Haiti's children and their future," Scully continued. "We are absolutely committed to the long-term success of this new school and the children it will serve. We look forward to deepening our partnership with the Digicel Foundation to make more transformative changes in Haiti in the years to come."


Learn more about ACE's work in Haiti.

Lifetime Achievement Award to Honor Fr. Scully and Support for Catholic Schools

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 16 October 2013.

Catholic schools continue to make a powerful difference in the lives of immigrants and disadvantaged children in inner-city neighborhoods. Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) is privileged to provide talented teachers and leaders, plus a spectrum of other resources, to help sustain these schools’ witness of educational excellence brightening the future for all children.

That mission of service inspired Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., to co-found ACE 20 years ago, and it continues to inspire him and countless others who are joining in ACE’s work for Catholic schools and for equal access to a hope-filled education. The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, which promotes ideas to foster individual opportunity and responsibility, has affirmed that inspiration by naming Father Scully this year’s recipient of the William E. Simon Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Social Entrepreneurship.

Howard Husock, who helps direct the Manhattan Institute’s awards program, writes about Father Scully, ACE, and the ongoing mission in an online profile, published Oct. 14 by Forbes magazine. The presentation of the award coincides with Notre Dame’s Fighting for Our Children’s Future National Bus Tour, which is marking the 20th anniversary of ACE through visits to Catholic schools in 50 cities, raising awareness of the profound effect an excellent education can make on a child’s life.

Read the full article.

See the Notre Dame news release.

Role of Faith-based Schools Explored in Influential Forum in Dallas

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 02 October 2013.

Bush Institute and ACE are among sponsors as National Bus Tour begins

DALLAS (Oct. 3, 2013) -- This morning, the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, and the George W. Bush Institute will host a timely conversation on the unique and integral role that faith-based K-12 schools play in urban settings.

This event, titled “Sacred Spaces: Faith Based Schools and American Cities,” will take place at the George W. Bush Institute on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.

The event brings together policy makers, philanthropists, school leaders, and academics for an honest and action-oriented conversation on what faith-based schools mean to the development and revitalization of many of our cities.

Speakers will include George W. Bush Presidential Center President Margaret Spellings, former Washington DC Mayor Anthony Williams, former St. Petersburg, Florida Mayor Rick Baker, Boston University’s Charles Glenn, and Notre Dame’s Rev. Timothy R. Scully, CSC.

“At a time when the dialogue about K-12 education often seems unnecessarily polarized and stultifying, this is an opportunity for leaders across the political and ideological spectrum to re-imagine what faith-based schools can mean to our cities," said Rev. Timothy R. Scully, CSC, ACE’s founder and Director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI).

“Across the country, we see so much evidence that faith based schools are indispensable instruments of both intellectual formation and social transformation. These schools truly are sacred places serving a valuable civic purpose, and we owe it to our communities and our children to do whatever it takes to support their revitalization.”

“Many faith-based schools are national treasures, particularly those that are producing meaningful results in the inner city with disadvantaged students,” said Secretary Margaret Spellings, President of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. “At a time when more than three-fourths of the fastest-growing jobs require at least a high school diploma, we need every school in America to have success rates like many of our urban faith-based schools.”

The invitation-only event will be webcast live, beginning at 9:30 a.m. CT, at

The University of Notre Dame’s involvement in the event marks the kickoff of the Fighting for Our Children’s Future National Bus Tour, a cross country effort to raise awareness for the profound impact that K-12 schools have on the future of our children’s lives, and to celebrate the unique role that Catholic schools play in nurturing the soul of our nation. The branded bus, scheduled to visit nearly 50 cities over the next nine months, begins the tour in Dallas, with visits to local schools on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4. For more information, visit


About the Alliance for Catholic Education

The University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education impacts the lives of several hundred thousand children nationwide by preparing highly talented teachers, principals and school leaders, while offering an array of professional services for US Catholic Schools—the world's largest private school system. ACE works in partnership with hundreds of schools to ensure that the students in their communities, many of them from low-income families in high poverty communities, have access to a high-quality education.

About the George W. Bush Institute: 

The George W. Bush Institute advances freedom through education reform, global health, human freedom and economic growth. In all its programming, the Institute integrates initiatives that empower women and military service personnel. The Bush Institute is the policy arm of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes the Presidential library and museum, located on the campus of SMU in Dallas.

For more information, please visit, Facebook ( and Twitter (

This story, like the event it describes, is the result of a partnership expressing shared concern for the availability of an excellent education for all children.