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About the PEA

Formed in 2010, the University of Notre Dame’s Program for Educational Access (PEA) represents an innovative partnership between the University of Notre Dame’s ACE Program, Church leaders, policy makers. Animated by Notre Dame’s mission to cultivate a disciplined sensibility to the poverty and injustice that burdens so many families, the PEA helps make high-performing faith-based schools financially accessible to families on the margins of society.

The PEA is housed within Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). ACE is a comprehensive teaching, research, and outreach collaborative that revitalizes K-12 Catholic education through leadership formation, research, and professional service.

The Program’s plan for meeting its goals and fulfilling its mission is grounded in its three core strategic domains:

Strengthening Advocacy


Bishops’ Conversations Series

The PEA leads a dialogue with Catholic (arch)bishops across the country to discuss the Church’s integral role in the enactment and implementation of well designed parental choice programs. Each year, the PEA hosts at least one informal gathering of a small group of (arch)bishops for such a strategy session on Catholic school revitalization. The objective of these conversations is to mobilize (arch)bishops on advocating for and helping to implement such legislation. Since its inception, the PEA has worked with approximately 100 prominent (arch)bishops.

Latino Leaders' Education Policy Symposium

Each year, the PEA leads a gathering of Latino legislative, municipal, and corporate leaders to examine issues relevant K-12 education reform, with a particular focus on parental choice. This gathering, sponsored in conjunction with the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (CREO) was launched in November 2011 with a strategy session including Latino leaders from Arizona, Colorado, and Texas.

Forming Leaders


Reform Leaders Summit

Launched in 2009, the Reform Leaders Summit (previously named the Parental Choice Symposium (PCS)) is a leadership formation enterprise for aspiring education reform leaders seeking to develop skills in advocacy, policy design, grassroots mobilization, and program administration. The Summit cultivates a robust talent pipeline for the educational choice movement by forming imaginative and well-informed leaders dedicated to advancing sophisticated private school choice policy.

Over the course of the past seven years, the Summit has trained more than 100 choice leaders, including executive directors of education reform and scholarship organizations, school and school system leaders, and graduate students.

Learn more about the Reform Leaders Summit.

To apply, click below:


The School Pastors’ Institute

The PEA works closely with ACE’s School Pastors' Institute (SPI), a leadership formation program designed to assist School Pastors to develop skills in areas integral to leading a Catholic school, including cultivating vibrant Catholic school culture, promoting teacher and principal accountability, working with diverse populations of students, and providing thoughtful management, and public policy advocacy. Over the course of the past six years, the SPI has served over 1000 Pastors, including more than 150 pastors from states with a current educational choice program, and many more in states advancing meaningful policy reform.

Learn more about the School Pastors' Institute.


Improving Implementation


Talent Deployment

We believe that talent deployment is integral to school and school system transformation. The PEA stewards the strategic deployment of talent from ACE’s broader formation portfolio, which includes ACE Teaching Fellows, the Remick Leadership Program, the Center for Transformational Educational Leadership, the School Pastors Institute, the Latino Enrollment Institute, the Center for STEM Education, and the English as a New Language Program. These approximately 350 teachers, pastors, and school leaders are deployed to cities across the country. By cultivating “ACE Talent Hotbeds” in various choice markets, the PEA is increasing quality educational opportunities for low-income families.

High Performers Strategy Sessions

In an effort to demonstrate the capacity of choice policy to drive measurable growth in the number of low-income children in high-performing schools, the PEA hosts annual strategy sessions. One session invites leaders of the highest performing faith-based schools serving low-income children and one is a “cross-sector” gathering of leaders from both the faith-based and charter sectors. These leaders work to identify the necessary features that have driven their success and explore possibilities to share best practice among other operators.

Notre Dame ACE Academies Support

In an effort to expand and enhance the Notre Dame ACE Academies network’s capacity to provide a high-quality Catholic education to as many at-risk children as possible, the PEA helps lead Notre Dame ACE Academies scholarship tax credit fundraising initiative. This effort is presently focused on leveraging Notre Dame networks in the corporate community to maximize corporate participation in the Arizona tax credit program but will expand according to tax credit opportunities in new Notre Dame ACE Academies sites. This support is primarily in the form of corporate prospect research and cultivation and formalizing partnerships with relevant SGOs.

Support Parental Choice

The Program for Educational Access believe in the power of school choice. You can learn how children and families benefit from the passing of school choice (or parental choice) legislation, and how to advocate for such education reform in the public policy arena.

We encourage you to check out our resources about parental choice, and we invite you to consider applying for the Reform Leaders Summit.

Also, join us in celebrating National School Choice Week!

Contact Us

Interested in supporting school choice? Contact the Program for Educational Access at .