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Strengthening Advocacy, Forming Leaders, and Implementing Policy

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

Strengthening Advocacy

Bishops’ Conversation 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 family 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 200 prominent (arch)bishops.

Forming Leaders

Reform Leaders SummitReform Leaders' Summit

Launched in 2009, the Reform Leaders' Summit 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 twelve years, the Summit has trained more than 350 choice leaders, including executive directors of education reform and scholarship organizations, school and school system leaders, and graduate students.

Implementing Policy

PEA School Pastors' InstituteThe 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.

State Support

The PEA's state support work is focused on making targeted investments in states where a coordinated bill design, advocacy, and implementation effort are most likely to show demonstrable results in student enrollment and policy expansion. 

The Team

John Schoenig

Senior Director, Teacher Formation and Education Policy

Collin Gortner

Associate Program Director, Program for Educational Access

Support Family Choice

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

We encourage you to check out our resources about school 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 educational choice? Contact the Program for Educational Access at