National Recognition for Cincinnati’s Latino Outreach Program

National Recognition for Cincinnati’s Latino Outreach Program

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.

Mayra Alza Wilson (center) received the Catherine T at the 2018 NCEA Convention. Celebrating her recognition were (left) Susan Gibbons, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and (right) Amelia Riedel, Interim Executive Director for SC Ministry Foundation.

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.


The Vital Role of Immigrants in Ohio

FeaturedThe Vital Role of Immigrants in Ohio

A new report, Our Pathway to a Brighter Future: Ohio’s New Americans, has revealed evidence that immigrants play a crucial role in Ohio’s economy and that further investments in services for immigrants would expand positive outcomes. The report is the result of the collaboration from SC Ministry Foundation and several Ohio funders, which sought to understand Ohio’s underserved immigrant populations and their contributions to our communities.

“Immigrants and their children represent the majority of projected labor-force growth in the United States over the next four decades,” said Richey Piiparinen, director of The Center for Population Dynamics at Cleveland State University and the report’s author. “By making investments in supportive services here in Ohio, particularly for our newest immigrants, we can expedite their ability to positively contribute to Ohio’s economy.”

While many of Ohio’s immigrants have achieved conventional markers of success, including rates of educational attainment 15.4 percentage points higher than native-born Ohioans (42.1 percent of Ohio’s immigrants hold a four-year degree or higher compared to 26.7 percent of native-born Ohioans), immigrants have higher poverty rates than the native-born population (18.7 percent to 14.4 percent). This reality is a function of the time it takes to acclimate to a new country and its customs, and can be lessened with improved access to three types of services:

  • adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services and Spanish GED services throughout the state;
  • legal services that are affordable and available regardless of legal status;
  • a full-range of healthcare services that are available regardless of legal status and that address physical, mental, and oral health.

Supporting immigrants creates benefits for native-born Ohioans. Immigrants are more likely to fill physically demanding and emotionally draining jobs in high-demand fields such as home health care, catapulting native-born Ohioans into more skilled labor. As Ohio’s population ages, immigrants will play an important role in filling jobs for the estimated 1.1 million personal and home health care providers needed in the United States by 2026.

Additional findings in the report include:

  • Ohio’s immigrants have higher rates of family formation than native-born Ohio households, with 62.2 percent of immigrant households comprised of married couples with children compared to 56.4 percent of native-born.
  • While Ohio’s population growth is almost stagnant, growing at only 0.15 percent since 1998, immigrants help to stabilize Ohio’s population and are a source of growth.
  • Still, only 4.4 percent of Ohio’s population is composed of immigrants compared to 13.6 percent of the U.S. population. This is the largest divide between Ohio and the nation in modern history, and ranks Ohio in the bottom five nationally.

“Ohio’s immigrants drive cultural, economic, and social dynamism,” Piiparinen said. “By improving language, legal, and healthcare services, we can help immigrants contribute to Ohio’s economy and our communities more quickly. We must begin to imagine immigrant support services as a launchpad, not a safety net.”

Click to download the full report.

About the report

Our Pathway to a Brighter Future: Ohio’s New Americans is the result of a collaboration of funders coordinated through Philanthropy Ohio. It was funded through the generous support of The George Gund Foundation, The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio, Needmor Fund, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, Open Society Foundations and SC Ministry Foundation.

Recognizing National Migration Week

Recognizing National Migration Week

“…faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others.” – Pope Francis

National Migration Week is January 8-14, 2017

On January 8, the celebration of the Epiphany, Christians reflect on the journey of the wise men in search for the Savior. This date also marks the beginning of National Migration Week – a time designated by the Catholic Church in the United States as an opportunity to reflect on the circumstances confronting immigrants and refugees. Many of these migrants are children, and many are victims and survivors of human trafficking.

The theme for National Migration Week 2017, “Creating a Culture of Encounter,” draws attention to Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us.

Too often in our contemporary culture, we fail to encounter migrants as persons, and instead look at them as “others” or render them invisible. We may not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, as fellow children of God, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious of their intentions.

During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as community members and neighbors worthy of our attention and support.

Prayer and Reflection for National Migration Week

“Do not be afraid,” the angel Gabriel told Mary. Immigrants and refugees face fear daily.




Let us pray for the grace of love,
which casts out all fear.



Jesus was born a migrant. Bethlehem had no room, so Jesus was born in a stable.


Let us pray for the
grace of hospitality to

welcome newcomers.




The Holy Family became refugees through the wrath of King Herod. Today migrants and refugees are still forced from their homes.


Let us pray for the
grace of charity,
to offer comfort and consolation.





Merciful and Loving Father,
Open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality and refuge to migrants
who are lonely, afraid, and far from their homes.

Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst,
to invite them into our communities as a demonstration of Christ’s love for us.

-Adapted from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Unity in Diversity, A Scriptural Rosary”
Images of stained glass and nativity scene from the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Immaculate Conception Chapel. 


Additional Resources for National Migration Week:

Justice for Immigrants Network

National Migration Week Toolkit

Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Public Statement on Immigration




Immigration: the Facts, the Challenges and the Nonprofit Response

Immigration: the Facts, the Challenges and the Nonprofit Response

“Catholics have a long history of welcoming and working with immigrants.  The call to welcome is rooted in our faith and in our traditions.  We are an immigrant church in an immigrant nation.”  – Jeanne Atkinson

On August 31, SC Ministry Foundation hosted nearly 70 community partners and Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati for: “Immigration: the Facts, the Challenges and the Nonprofit Response,” presented by Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).

Since 2003, SC Ministry Foundation has supported the efforts of CLINIC, which provides legal, technical and advocacy support services to nearly 300 affiliates that assist vulnerable and low-income immigrants with family reunification, citizenship, and protection from persecution and violence.

jeanneatkinsonatcedars_083116_img4742_700pJeanne Atkinson’s expertise with immigration law stems from her current role with CLINIC, as well as her prior experience as the Director of Catholic Charities’ Immigration Legal Services for the Archdiocese of Washington. Ms. Atkinson holds a J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law and is a member of the Pennsylvania bar.

Jeanne presented factual data to foster understanding of the immigrant population in the United States and the need for comprehensive reform of immigration policies in our country. Reports show that 41 million immigrants are living in the U.S., including 11 million people who are unauthorized. Of those 11 million people, approximately 6 million have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years and nearly 2 million have lived in the U.S. for 20 years or more.

Who are We Talking About?

“We are talking about our neighbors, our kids’ playmates, our parents’ caregivers, our doctors and cashiers, our friends,” shared Jeanne. “As we look at the big picture of immigration, we see that we are talking about people who have made lives here and become part of our communities, participate in the labor market, and have created families.” In fact, 5.2 million children born in the U.S. live with at least one undocumented parent.

“We are talking about our workers,” Jeanne explained. “Unauthorized immigrants make up more than 5% of the U.S. labor force.” She added, “There are sectors of our economy that rely heavily on immigrant labor, including agriculture and the service industry.”

Jeanne cited a Brookings Institute Study which found that immigrants raise the overall standard of living of American workers by filling jobs that complement the jobs that employ American citizens.

She presented additional facts to dispel the misinformation that has been shared about immigrants, including:

  • Undocumented immigrants pay $11.6 billion a year in taxes;
  • Tax revenues of both legal and undocumented immigrants exceed the cost of the services they use;
  • Since 1990, the number of unauthorized immigrants has more than tripled. During the same period, the FBI reported that the violent crime rate fell by 48% and the property crime rate fell 41%.

How Are We ‘Welcoming the Stranger’?

Jeanne also discussed the unjust treatment of undocumented immigrants, especially concerning women and children held in detention centers. She shared how CLINIC is advocating for their needs, since many do not have access to adequate medical care, legal counsel, and language-appropriate services.

CLINIC is one of the partners involved with the CARA Pro Bono Representation Project that is dedicated to providing legal services to the women and children detained at the family detention centers in south Texas. SC Ministry Foundation has supported these efforts that have resulted in nearly 8,000 families initiating the process of seeking asylum through CLINIC’s involvement and assistance from 700+ volunteers.

“There is no humane way to detain parents and their children,”shared Jeanne Atkinson. CLINIC organized the Diapers in Detention campaign to raise awareness of the inhumane practice of detaining babies in prison-like conditions.

In response to enforcement efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last winter, CLINIC worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education to provide clear communication to immigrant communities. CLINIC created an infographic (shown below) and distributed it in English and Spanish to assure immigrant families of the locations where ICE would not conduct enforcement actions or raids.


For additional information, the program’s presentation slides and a list of resources on immigration issues is available on the SC Ministry Foundation website at:

Sister Sally Duffy, SC, President and Executive Director of SC Ministry Foundation, introduces Jeanne Atkinson to the group gathered at the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Motherhouse. 


Grants Awarded to 39 Nonprofits

SC Ministry Foundation conducts semi-annual responsive grant cycles for funding requests from qualified nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations which align with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati mission.

In June, 2016, the SC Ministry Foundation Board of Directors approved twenty responsive grants for:

Archdiocese of Cincinnati Catholic Schools Office, Cincinnati, OH – to support the outreach and integration of Latino students in Catholic schools;

Resurrection School, Holy Family School, St. William School and St. Lawrence School, Cincinnati, OH – to support student success through a counselor/social worker program in each of these Price Hill Catholic elementary schools;

Healthy Moms and Babes, Cincinnati, OH – to support healthy outcomes for high-risk pregnant women through community outreach;

Elder High School, Cincinnati, OH – to support community engagement, professional development and support services through the tech-reach program;

Purcell Marian High School, Cincinnati, OH – to support student success through blended learning;

St. Rita School for the Deaf, Cincinnati, OH – to support student readiness for kindergarten through the Language Opportunities for Tots program;

Santa Maria Community Services, Cincinnati, OH – to support student readiness for kindergarten through the Promoting Our Preschoolers program;

The Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH –  to support student success with the Third Grade Reading assessment through specialized instruction with grade K-3 students at Resurrection School;

Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH – to support legal assistance to homeowners and renters in Price Hill and advocacy for better housing policies;

Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, Cincinnati, OH – to support improved health and well-being for uninsured adults through behavioral health services at the Good Samaritan Free Health Center;

Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA– to support successful students by providing health and counseling services in two New Orleans Catholic schools;

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH – to support the development of children in Price Hill through education, health and community engagement;

Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Cincinnati, OH – to support enhanced capacity of services as well as spiritual growth and leadership development through the Vincentian Volunteers program;

ProKids, Cincinnati, OH – to support the protection and supervision of foster children age birth to five through the training of court appointed special advocates;

The Health Collaborative, Cincinnati, OH – to support a comprehensive, community-wide collective impact initiative to address goals for improved health, greater access to health care with lower costs;

Cooperative for Education, Cincinnati, OH – to support sustainable education programs in Guatemala that lead people out of poverty through outreach and engagement with North American donors;

Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO – to support improved and expanded legal immigration services for low-income immigrant families.

Also approved were nineteen director’s responsive grants awarded to organizations in Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Washington, DC that will advance our mission regionally and nationally.

The semi-annual responsive grants represent one type of grant program provided by SC Ministry Foundation. In addition, the Foundation provides grants for sponsored ministries of the Sisters of Charity, capacity building grants, and discretionary grants. In 2014, the Sister Elise Grant was introduced as a small grant fund for programs where a small amount of money can make a big difference.

For more information, see:

Funding priorities

Responsive grant process

Sister Elise Grant

Catholic Sisters Stand in Solidarity with Immigrants

Catholic Sisters Stand in Solidarity with Immigrants

Regardless of your religion or the location of your neighborhood, chances are very likely that your life has been influenced in some way through the ministries of Catholic Sisters. Why? Because Catholic Sisters throughout history have been dedicated in their service to all persons – regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity or economic status. Many of our nation’s hospitals, schools and social service agencies would not exist today if it were not for the courage of faith-filled women who founded them over 100 years ago.

A Legacy of Caring for the Oppressed

Sister Blandina Segale, SC surrounded by her students in Albuquerque, NM in 1881.

The rich history and heritage of the Sister of Charity of Cincinnati contains many inspiring stories of innovative, courageous and deeply compassionate Sisters. One of those Sisters is now in the process of becoming a Saint. Sister Blandina Segale left Cincinnati in 1872 to brave the Santa Fe Trail. As a young woman in her twenties, her experiences grew from teaching children in small adobe schoolhouses across Colorado and New Mexico, to caring for the sick and the dying that others had rejected, to defending the rights of the regions’ Native Americans and Mexicans. When Sister Blandina returned to Cincinnati, she and her sister Justina Segale, also a Sister of Charity, co-founded Santa Maria Institute in 1897 to care for the poor and needy Italian immigrants in the inner-city.


A Nation of Immigrants – Past and Present

Sister Margarita Brewer, SC surrounded by students who received the 2016 English Language Learning Foundation scholarships.

Today, the work of Sister Blandina and Sister Justina continues through the assistance that Santa Maria Community Services provides to immigrant families in Cincinnati’s Price Hill neighborhoods. Many of our Sisters continue to devote their ministry to immigrant families, including Sister Margarita Brewer, who has assisted numerous immigrants and English language learners in Cincinnati and beyond. As a native of Panama, Sister Margarita personally understands the challenges of immigrant families. Through her work with the English Language Learning Foundation, more than $55,000 in scholarships have been awarded to ensure that students from immigrant families have opportunities to achieve their dreams through higher education. SC Ministry Foundation was pleased to be one of the sponsors of the 2016 event that recognized these deserving students.

These young adults will have the opportunity to contribute to our neighborhoods and our region much like the experience of our ancestors from Ireland, Germany, Italy, Africa, and many other areas around the world.

As young professionals, they will have the opportunity to become our future entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as community volunteers, parish members and welcoming neighbors.

However, more support is needed to ensure that immigrant families are welcomed into our communities, our places of work and our places of worship.

A Nation Strengthened by Diversity

ImmigrationInfographicContrary to the “sound bites” that dominate mass media, immigrants have strengthened our economy and our communities. According to reports from The Partnership for a New American Economy:

  • Immigrants have added approximately $3.7 trillion to housing wealth nationally. With the rising trend of baby boomers who are downsizing, immigration reform could alleviate the shortage of home buyers. [source:]
  • By the year 2050, the number of Americans over age 65 is projected to double the 43 million seniors in 2012. This fact, coupled with the increased educational attainment of young Americans and decreasing birth rates will leave a significant gap in the nation’s workforce. Immigration reform could bridge this gap since most immigrants are of prime working age. [source:]

The report, “New Americans in Cincinnati,” produced by The Partnership for a New American Economy with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, provides local data:

  • In 2012, immigrants in metro Cincinnati accounted for 3.5% of the population, yet held more than $1.5 billion in spending power;
  • Tax contributions from immigrants in 2012 totaled over $189 million in state and local tax dollars;
  • Immigrants represent 6.8% of the high-tech workforce, and 11.3% of all information technology workers.

Immigrants are also devoted to faith, family and community. In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, a growing number of Latino students are contributing to classrooms, with a 68% increase in Latino enrollment across 91 Catholic schools since 2011.

Sisters of Charity – Faithful Advocates for Justice

As a congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati strongly advocate for change in our nation’s unjust immigration policies, as stated in their Public Statement on Immigration, which supports the 2003 Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States. Thirteen years have passed since the Bishops’ call for reform, and yet the message remains critical:

“Migrants and immigrants are in our parishes and in our communities. In both our countries, we see much injustice and violence against them and much suffering and despair among them because civil and church structures are still inadequate to accommodate their basic needs.

We judge ourselves as a community of faith by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us. The treatment of migrants challenges the consciences of elected officials, policymakers, enforcement officers, residents of border communities, and providers of legal aid and social services, many of whom share our Catholic faith.”

– Excerpt from Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of Mexico and the U.S.

Sisters stand in solidarity with immigrants, and are committed to ensuring their God-given dignity. They strive to fulfill the words of Christ, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40).

Sisters advocate and pray for the women, men and children who seek asylum in our nation – a nation which was founded on the concept that all are created equal, with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

SC Ministry Foundation recognizes the contributions of all of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Catholic Sisters with other congregations, and the faithful lay people who partner with them to support the vulnerable immigrant population.

We challenge our grantees and partners across the nation to join us in daring to risk a caring response, and in advocating for our immigrant sisters and brothers in Christ.

Sisters Exchange Ideas and Cultures

Sisters Exchange Ideas and Cultures

A 2014 report by the Pew Research Center revealed that the number of U.S. Catholics who are Hispanic increased by 5% since 2007. The same study revealed that only 17% of U.S. Catholic adults are under the age of 30. These stats point to a strong case for engaging with young Hispanic Catholics to encourage religious vocations to sustain the future of the Church.

CatholicExtension_LatinAmSrExchange_Group_2016However, the areas where Hispanic families often settle in the U.S. are often the areas with the fewest resources. Catholic Extension Society launched a program in 2014 to strengthen eleven of the underserved dioceses with Catholic Sisters directly from Latin America. The U.S./Latin American Sisters Exchange program places several Sisters in each of the selected dioceses to engage with Hispanic families and develop and empower lay leadership in their local parishes. The Latin American Sisters are provided fair compensation, housing, transportation, access to their local church leadership and educational opportunities. Shortly after they arrived in the U.S., the Latin American Sisters participated in nine weeks of intensive English language and inculturation training at the Mexican-­American Catholic College in San Antonio, TX.

Vocations without Borders

To provide specific training for religious vocations, Catholic Extension partnered with the National Religious Vocations Conference to provide a one-day workshop titled, Vocaciones sin Fronteras en un Mundo Cambiante / Vocations without Borders in a Changing World. The 36 Sisters from Latin America were joined by 51 additional U.S. Sisters who are also engaged in Hispanic ministry. Presentations and small-group activities were led by Sr. Elsa E. Garcia, C.D.P., who currently serves as Pastoral Associate and Social Ministries Coordinator in Midland, TX, and Sr. Raquel Ortez, SSND, a vocation team member with 15 years of prior experience with formal education in Honduras. The networking among Sisters was also valuable in sharing tools and resources. One participant shared that the workshop helped her, “to be unified in promoting vocations, to be enthusiastic and hopeful, to broaden the horizon of the reality of USA, and to discover how to share the joy of religious life.”

SC Ministry Foundation provided funding support for the vocations workshop, and has partnered with Catholic Extension since 2012 to support other national efforts in Hispanic ministry as part of the Foundation’s focus on the inclusion and integration of immigrants within communities.

Inspiring the Next Generation

As the Latin American Sisters become more acclimated to American lifestyles, they are beginning to implement the training they have received. All 36 Sisters have completed an initial inventory of the needs and opportunities for their respective communities and created a strategic plan in coordination with their parish priest and diocese.

CatholicExtension_LatinAmSrExchange2016_Sr BlancaDesMoines_500p
Sister Blanca, a participant in the U.S./Latin American Sisters Exchange Program met with a 10-year old girl in the Diocese of DesMoines who expressed interest in becoming a nun. 

As a result, all of the eleven dioceses have hosted vocational events for youth including retreats and day-long workshops. Young adults and children who may not have even seen a nun before are now given the opportunity to build a relationship with a Catholic Sister. In the Diocese of Des Moines, a ten-year-old girl who attended a vocations event with her family approached Sister Blanca and expressed her interest in becoming a nun. Together they posed for a photo that demonstrated the joy of the moment.

The U.S./Latin American Sisters Exchange program is a powerful example of how the work of the Gospel reaches across borders, languages and cultures to build the kingdom of God.

To learn more:

You Tube video highlighting the U.S./Latin American Sisters Exchange

Catholic Extension

Photos courtesy of Catholic Extension.