Alliance for Catholic Education: Fighting for Schools and Children

Notre Dame’s latest installment of the “What Would You Fight For?” campaign during Notre Dame Football games on NBC featured Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). ACE was founded in 1994 by Fr. Tim Scully and Fr. Sean McGraw as a teacher training program serving Catholic schools in the South and Southwestern United States. Today ACE has expanded into nearly every possible avenue related to strengthening and sustaining our nation’s Catholic schools and the education of our nation’s neediest children. I am blessed to be both a graduate of the ACE program and an employee of the ACE organization.

Current ACE Programs:

ACE Service Through Teaching Program
The ACE Service Through Teaching Program, or “ACE Classic” as it has popularly been known, is a two-year teacher training program offering college graduates the opportunity to teach in under-resourced Catholic schools while earning a Master in Education degree from the University of Notre Dame. Andrew Greely recently noted that these teachers living in a community of 4-7 teachers are “an anticipation of what the religious life would look like in the next generation” (Greely, The Bishop at the Lake, p. 11).

Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program in the Alliance for Catholic Education
Beginning in 2002, ACE has been training administrators of Catholic schools in dioceses all across the country. Administrators participate in three summers of intensive study. Upon completion of the program, participants earn a Master of Arts in Educational Administration with a special focus on leading a Catholic school.

ACE Fellowship
ACE Fellowship is a unique arm of the Alliance for Catholic Education. More than just an alumni network, the ACE Fellowship is building a movement in service to Catholic schools. ACE and UCCE graduates are joining together with other local leaders to serve Catholic schools and grow in their own spiritual formation as adults.

Magnificat Schools
The Notre Dame Magnificat Schools consist of a total of three Catholic schools Chicago, South Bend, and Washington, D.C. who are working in partnership with the University of Notre Dame. This exploratory university partnership model provides services in the form of instructional coaching, professional development, strategic planning, partnership with ACE Consulting, and access to a network of other Catholic schools and teachers. The purpose of the program is to empower urban Catholic schools.

English as a New Language Program
In 2006 ACE launched a new academic program for teachers of English as a new language. Currently, participants earn a certificate that will qualify teachers for a license as a teacher of English as a new language. ACE is exploring new ways to expand this program including ways to offer it in conjunction with a degree program in mild to moderate disabilities.

ACE Consulting
The ACE Consulting Initiative provides “high quality, professional consultative services at an affordable cost to under-resourced elementary and secondary Catholic schools.” The ACE Consulting team provides schools and dioceses with assistance in gaining access to federal public funding, strategic planning, and ongoing consultation in the areas of finance, governance, academics, school board formation, and Catholic identity.

Alliance for Catholic Education Press
With so much synergy growing in ACE, the organization realized that the research and ideas growing out of the various movements needed an outlet for publication. The Alliance for Catholic Education Press offers a number of books focused on Catholic education studies, course and practice-based texts and resources, and spiritual and pastoral texts and resources. Among the many publications, most recently ACE Press has released Faith, Finances, and the Future: The Notre Dame Study of U.S. Pastors, Research, Action, and Change: Leaders Reshaping Catholic Schools, Ethical Sensitivity: Nurturing Character in the Classroom, EthEx Series Book 1, and Prayers to Guide Teaching.

ACE Curriculum and Instruction Initiative
ACE C & I is currently piloting a program in Memphis, TN and Pensacola, FL to strengthen curriculum and instruction in schools. Based on the experience of training teachers in the M.Ed. program and working in conjunction with new web-based technologies offered by Curriki, ACE “hopes to foster a deep culture of excellence and continuous improvement.”

Strategic Intervention Teams (SIT) Program
SIT provides training to teachers in Catholic schools on how to best educate all students, particularly those that struggle with learning and/or behavioral challenges. It is a two year training program during which representatives trained by Notre Dame visit the schools participating in the program, share with them best practices and help them implement SIT within their schools.

Task Force on Latinos in Catholic Schools
Nearly 75% of Latino immigrants to the United States are Catholic, but only 3% of Latino families are sending their children to Catholic schools. After many meetings and discussions, the Notre Dame Task Force on Latinos in Catholic schools will release a report this December with a plan to invite Latinos into Catholic schools.

Play Like A Champion Today™
Last but not least, the program that I currently help to direct is Play Like A Champion Today™. Play Like A Champion Today™ (PLC) is a sports education program serving primarily Catholic schools and CYO leagues all across the U.S. and Canada. Since 2006 PLC has trained nearly 6,000 coaches and 1,500 parents. The Sports as Ministry Initiative is in many ways adult catechesis for coaches and parents who spend hours involved in youth sports. We help coaches teach Gospel values and develop character while at the same time form motivated, successful athletes. For more information visit email

My question to you is, what is ACE not doing for Catholic schools? For more information visit


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Jared Dees is the creator of The Religion Teacher. He is the Digital Marketing Manager at Ave Maria Press and the author of 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator and To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach.

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