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Notre Dame ACE Academies Network Expands to Indianapolis and Palm Beach

on Wednesday, 20 April 2016.

ACE Academies Expand to Indianapolis and Palm Beach

April 20, 2016—The University of Notre Dame will establish six new Notre Dame ACE Academies in partnerships with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Diocese of Palm Beach beginning in the 2016-2017 school year. The Notre Dame ACE Academies are a network of academically excellent, financially sustainable, and distinctively Catholic K-8 schools that operate through Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). 

Five schools in Indianapolis, Ind., and one school Palm Beach, Fla., will join the Notre Dame ACE Academies network that currently includes eight schools: two in the Diocese of Tucson; two in the Diocese of St. Petersburg; and four in the Diocese of Orlando. The five Indianapolis schools are Central Catholic, Holy Angels, Holy Cross, St. Anthony and St. Philip Neri. In Palm Beach, the new addition is St. Luke Catholic School.

Most Rev. Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., of the Indianapolis Archdiocese and Most Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito, D.D., J.C.L., of the Palm Beach Diocese joined in the announcements with Rodney Pierre-Antoine, the Gary and Barbara Pasquinelli Family Director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies, and the superintendents of Indianapolis and Palm Beach, Gina Kuntz Fleming  and Gary Gelo, respectively.

“The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has long been a leader in finding innovative ways to serve the educational and spiritual needs of children from some of the lowest income areas in Indianapolis. Partnering with the Notre Dame ACE Academies will strengthen these five schools by providing students even more resources and opportunities,” Archbishop Tobin said.  “I’m committed to seeing that these children have the same chance I had to grow up in a community of faith and to receive an excellent Catholic education.”

Bishop Barbarito added, “I am grateful to Father Tim Scully, C.S.C., and the Alliance for Catholic Education for the outstanding work they are doing in assisting Catholic schools across the country and for naming St. Luke Catholic School as one of the Notre Dame ACE Academies. It is our hope that this partnership will assist the school in continuing to serve a diverse population from the parish and surrounding communities.”

The mission of the Notre Dame ACE Academies is to provide a Catholic education of the highest quality to as many children as possible by mobilizing the resources of the University, the (arch)diocese, statewide parental choice programs, and local communities. ACE faculty and staff will work closely with school and diocesan leaders in all the schools to increase academic achievement, boost enrollment, and strengthen the schools’ Catholic identity by enhancing school leadership, curriculum, instruction, professional development, financial management, and marketing.

The Notre Dame ACE Academies were founded in 2010 as a response to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ call for a “new model of sponsorship and collaboration” between Catholic institutions of higher education and parish schools. The network has heeded the call and continues to grow while experiencing both academic and enrollment gains in its schools.

The existing Notre Dame ACE Academies schools are closing the achievement gap that many inner-city students experience. From fall 2011 to spring 2015, on average, students improved in math from the 31st percentile to the 67th percentile in STAR assessments, moving from the bottom third to the top third in the nation. In 2015, the network was recognized by the White House as an outstanding resource of educational excellence for Hispanic students.

Enrollment gains at the current Notre Dame ACE Academies have been dramatic as well, defying national trends in Catholic schools. Since the partnership began, Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tucson have increased enrollment by 80 percent, and schools in the Diocese of St. Petersburg have grown their enrollment by 41 percent. Overall, the Notre Dame ACE Academies currently serve 2,323 students. By expanding the partnership to include Palm Beach and Indianapolis, ACE will extend the benefits of its model to nearly 3,600 children and their families.

“We are excited to kick things off with our new partners and to grow our community of committed professional educators,” Rodney Pierre-Antoine of Notre Dame said. “Our teachers and principals have demonstrated that it’s possible to close the achievement gap on the south side of Tucson, in Tampa, and in Orlando. We’re thrilled that our new partners are just as committed to doing whatever it takes to put every student on the path to college and heaven.”

More about the Indianapolis schools

The five Indianapolis schools joining the Notre Dame ACE Academies currently constitute the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies (MTCA), a consortium of schools that serve the most under-resourced students in the archdiocese. In 2005, these schools formed the MTCA to share financial resources and personnel and to gain support from a central office in an effort to continue serving the city’s most at-risk students. By designating these five schools as Notre Dame ACE Academies, the archdiocese and Notre Dame will continue the efforts of MTCA and leverage a broader pool of resources and support to serve the children of Indianapolis through a unique model of Catholic schooling.

“More than 10 years ago, Archbishop Emeritus Daniel Buechlein had the wisdom and progressive thought to approach urban Catholic education differently in an effort to better meet the holistic needs of the children and families served,” said Superintendent Fleming. “Now, under Archbishop Joseph Tobin, the archdiocese welcomes the Notre Dame ACE Academies to share in the next decade of more enhanced support for all. By joining forces with Notre Dame, we are confident that we will aid in the transformation of lives as we help our youth achieve college, career, and heaven.”

More about the Palm Springs school

St. Luke Catholic School was founded in 1962 by Rev. Matthew A. Morgan and the Sisters of Mercy from Dublin, Ireland. The school was first accredited by the Florida Catholic School Conference in May 1975 and continues to be accredited by the Florida Catholic Conference and the National Council for Private School Accreditation. St. Luke serves 182 students from preschool through grade eight. In 2013, Rev. Andrew Brierley became pastor of St. Luke Parish. Ms. Amy Lopez was recently named principal for the 2016-2017 school year.

The school has been working with ACE throughout the past two years to develop a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum. This partnership allowed St. Luke for the past two summers to host a popular Science and Engineering Student Camp in conjunction with the University. Moving forward, the school foresees offering similar innovative education programs.

Superintendent Gelo said, “I am delighted that St. Luke Catholic School is being named as a Notre Dame ACE Academy. It is an excellent Catholic school serving a diverse population, and it can only benefit from the exceptional opportunities offered by the Alliance for Catholic Education. We are grateful for this opportunity to work together to advance Catholic education, particularly in this part of Palm Beach County.”

For more about ACE and the Notre Dame ACE Academies, visit

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