First "LEI on the Road" Gathers Catholic Schools from Across Mid-Atlantic Region
For the first time in the program’s five-year history, the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) was held off-site of Notre Dame’s campus. In partnership with the Diocese of Allentown and the Healey Education Foundation, the Alliance for Catholic Education welcomed 30 Catholic schools from around the Mid-Atlantic region to DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, October 10-12. Of the 30 schools in attendance, 20 were from right there in the Diocese of Allentown, while the remaining ten schools came from the (arch)dioceses of Baltimore, Camden, and Philadelphia.
“Together we celebrate the vibrant Latino present and future of the Catholic Church in the United States,” said Bishop John Barres, Bishop of Allentown, in his opening remarks. “We celebrate how the gifts of the Holy Spirit experienced in the Hispanic Catholic community enrich and inspire every dimension of our Catholic community and mission in the United States.” He continued by saying that “Dramatically expanding the Catholic Church’s education mission to Latino families in each diocese nationally is less a problem to solve as it is a challenge to celebrate, embrace, and boldly move forward on.”
Joining Bishop Barres in the introductions were Dr. Philip Fromuth, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Allentown, Dr. Judy Rance-Roney, Chair of Education at DeSales University, and Christine Healey, President of the Healey Education Foundation.
“Your presence here is so important because leadership is imperative as we seek to tackle the challenges of Catholic education in the third millennium,” said Dr. Fromuth. “This will require both informed and inspired leadership to ignite change and growth in our schools, parishes, and dioceses.”
The support of the Diocese of Allentown—who not only had a strong representation of schools at the conference, but also of diocesan staff and clergy—and their investment in this initiative, is an encouraging sign of the extent to which Catholic dioceses are beginning to take steps toward developing thoughtful and deliberative approaches to more fully engaging Latino families in Catholic education. Similarly, the Healey Education Foundation’s sponsorship of the Mid-Atlantic LEI, and the presence of several Healey directors at the conference, are evidence of a growing commitment among foundations supporting K-12 Catholic education to focus more intentionally on Latino outreach.
Over the course of the three-day conference, LEI participants learned recruitment and marketing practices designed to help boost Latino enrollment, how to establish an environment that is culturally responsive to Latino families, and ways to set up an effective Madrinas program, among many other things. Thirteen of the schools in attendance also signed up for a year of ongoing mentorship from one of the LEI mentor principals, a critical component of the LEI model. By having a mentor principal assist with the development and implementation of a robust Latino outreach plan, it provides experience-based feedback and ensures a level of accountability that contributes to lasting changes.
Now that the principals and their teams have returned to their schools to implement their “action plans”, the LEI team will continue to stay in touch with each of the schools and measure the impact of the LEI through both enrollment changes and anecdotal evidence of effective Latino outreach efforts.
We are deeply grateful to the Diocese of Allentown, the Healey Education Foundation, and DeSales University for making this event possible and ensuring its success. Being that this was the first time the LEI was offered at an off-site location, we were encouraged by the potential for replication in other regions throughout the country.
If you think your school would be an ideal candidate for the Latino Enrollment Institute, visit our webpage to learn more and apply. Applications for the 2017 summer conference are due December 16.