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The growing relationship between the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the University of Notre Dame deepened on March 29 when it was announced that five center-city Catholic schools in Indianapolis will become part of the Notre Dame ACE Academies network starting in the 2016-17 school year.
The five schools—Central Catholic, Holy Angels, Holy Cross Central, St. Anthony and St. Philip Neri—will join the growing network of Catholic schools that operate through the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). (Related: Superintendent discusses changes for schools joining ACE Academies)
Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin praised this latest partnership connecting the archdiocese and Notre Dame.
“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,” said Archbishop Tobin.
“Partnering with the Notre Dame ACE Academies will strengthen these five schools by providing students even more resources and opportunities. 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.”
The five Indianapolis schools currently form the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies (MTCA), a consortium of schools that serve students from low-income backgrounds.
By designating these five schools as Notre Dame ACE Academies, the archdiocese and Notre Dame will continue the efforts of MTCA to provide a broader pool of resources and support to serve these children, according to Gina Fleming, superintendent of Catholic schools in the archdiocese.
“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,” Fleming noted.
“Now, under Archbishop Tobin, the archdiocese welcomes Notre Dame ACE Academies to share in the next decade of more enhanced support for all. By joining forces with Notre Dame ACE, we are confident that we will aid in the transformation of lives as we help our youth achieve college, career and heaven.”
The partnership is the latest educational connection between the archdiocese and Notre Dame.
Eight administrators in archdiocesan schools have participated in the ACE Remick Leadership program. And this school year marked the first time that ACE teachers are serving in Catholic schools in the archdiocese. One teaches at St. Philip Neri School, while two ACE teachers are serving at St. Anthony School.
Holy Cross Father Timothy Scully—the co-founder of Notre Dame’s ACE program—also was the featured speaker during the archdiocese’s Celebrating Catholic School Values Awards event in 2015.
“We are excited to kick things off with our new partners and to grow our community of committed professional educators,” said Rodney Pierre-Antoine, the director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies.
He noted that the five Catholic schools in Indianapolis will join the network which currently includes eight schools: two in Tucson, Ariz.; two in Tampa, Fla.; and four in Orlando, Fla.
The eight established Notre Dame ACE Academies schools are closing the achievement gap that many inner-city students experience, Pierre-Antoine said. From fall 2011 to spring 2015, on average, students improved in math from the 31st percentile to the 67th percentile, moving from the bottom third to the top third in the nation.
In 2015, the Notre Dame ACE Academies network was recognized by the White House as an outstanding resource of educational excellence for Hispanic students.
The partnership between the archdiocese and Notre Dame will follow a similar blueprint for success—drawing from the resources of the university, the archdiocese, the Indiana parental choice program and local community support. ACE faculty and staff will work closely with school and archdiocesan leaders in Indianapolis.
“Our teachers and principals have demonstrated, with zeal, that it’s possible to close the achievement gap on the south side of Tucson, in Tampa, and in Orlando,” said Pierre-Antoine. “We’re excited that our new partners in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are just as committed to doing whatever it takes to put every student on the path to college and heaven.”
(To learn more about the Notre Dame ACE Academies, visit: ace.nd.edu/academies.) †