Since its inception in 2011, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Latino Outreach for Catholic Schools Program has supported the efforts to increase enrollment of Latino students in the Catholic schools of Cincinnati. Latinos are the nation’s fastest growing school-age population and minority, with 1 in 5 children in the United States being of Latino origin. However, a study conducted by Notre Dame University in 2009 revealed that only 3% of students in Catholic schools were Latino.
To challenge the perception in the Latino culture that private schools are exclusively for the wealthy, the program engages families to learn about financial assistance which makes Catholic education affordable. The program also addresses language and cultural barriers by establishing volunteer translators within the schools and working with school administrators to adapt more inclusive and welcoming practices.
Through the leadership of program coordinator Mayra Alza Wilson, the Latino population has increased from 4.5% to 18.8% in the ten targeted elementary schools in Cincinnati, including the five Price Hill Catholic schools. Reports have revealed that once enrolled, Latino students usually persist in their studies in the Catholic schools, as evidenced by a 98% retention rate for the 2015-16 school year.
The success of this program led to recognition from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). Last spring when the NCEA held its annual convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ President’s Award was presented to Mayra for promoting a vision of Catholic education that welcomes and serves cultural and economic diversity.
SC Ministry Foundation has supported the Latino Outreach Program for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since its inception in 2011. While the program initially focused on welcoming Latino students into Catholic elementary schools, in 2016 the program expanded to provide support to ten targeted Catholic high schools in Cincinnati, including Sister of Charity sponsored Seton High School and DePaul Cristo Rey High School. This year the high school with the highest enrollment of Latino students out of the ten targeted schools is DePaul Cristo Rey, where 13% of the student population are Latino.
This national recognition exemplifies how the Sister of Charity commitment to Catholic education continues to thrive through the programs supported by the SC Ministry Foundation.