Paving the Path to College and Heaven

A Campaign for the Notre Dame ACE Academies of Tucson



No child should be denied the right to his or her education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.    -Pope Benedict XVI

The children of Tucson have enjoyed an education in faith for almost a century in neighborhood Catholic elementary schools. In the fall of 2010, the University of Notre Dame and the Diocese of Tucson designated two of these schools - St. John the Evangelist and Santa Cruz - as the nation’s first Notre Dame ACE Academies, infusing new life into a community in need of hope and support. The Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tucson serve hundreds of children whose lives are constrained by devastating social and economic challenges. For these students, attending Catholic school is the intervention that makes a difference – and like Pope Benedict, we believe every child has the right to an education in faith, and our mission is to extend that opportunity to as many children in Tucson as possible. After all, the future of our communities – indeed, the future of the nation – depends on the education our most vulnerable children receive today.

Campaign for the ACE Academies

A Vision for the Future…

While these schools and their students benefit from a rigorous program of continuous improvement, decades of deferred maintenance have taken a toll. Each school is in urgent need of essential improvements to enhance the learning environment and to reflect the culture and the values of the communities served by the school.

To truly transform the schools and to extend the Catholic school advantage to hundreds more children, significant capital investment is required. With a goal of securing $5 million, this campaign is an ambitious undertaking, but this is an investment Tucson can’t afford to miss.

Funds raised will support three significant areas:

Good facilities are essential to facilitate learning, but the Notre Dame ACE Academies require numerous costly infrastructure improvements. The schools lack the electrical infrastructure required to properly power modern HVAC systems and to support digital learning. The security systems of the campuses must be upgraded to meet basic standards of campus safety. Roofs, windows, plumbing, kitchen facilities, and classrooms will be improved to support student performance and provide an education of the highest quality.

While these schools provide time-tested values and structure, they lack modern technology, essential educational materials, and digitally-equipped learning spaces. Through a research-based digital-hybrid approach to learning, our schools will leverage technology to prepare children for success in the 21st century global information economy.

Outdoor Space
Outdoor spaces are important because physical and recreational activities are critical for growth, health, education and enjoyment. Our schools enjoy large campus footprints, but our students lack adequate outdoor recreation facilities that can transform the schools into true community centers. We anticipate building outdoor shade structures, which will cover basketball courts and other recreation areas. These structures will also support solar panels, which will power the modern electrical systems that will drive learning technology and HVAC upgrades. Over time, the solar panels will generate enormous cost savings, allowing the schools to operate more efficiently and sustainably.

Our Goal: $ 5million

Notre Dame ACE Academies

St. John the Evangelist School Santa Cruz School
600 W. Ajo Way 29 W. 22nd St.
Tucson, AZ  85713 Tucson, AZ 85750
Keiran Roche, Principal Ellen Fisher, Principal
Rev. Raul Trevizo, Pastor Rev. David Guzman, O.C.D., Pastor


The Need

With Challenge Comes Opportunity…

The Notre Dame ACE Academies are located in historically underserved areas on the south side of Tucson, and many of the schools’ families live below federal poverty levels. Local statistics suggest that only a fraction of the children living in the neighborhoods surrounding the schools will attend college. In fact, fewer than half of the children who enter the public schools in the area will graduate from high school in four years.

In recent years, the escalating cost to educate has combined with financial challenges to result in diminished student enrollment at the three schools lagged behind capacity. Empty seats represent a missed opportunity to educate young people in a tradition of academic excellence and faith formation, and a missed opportunity for the local community
to prepare young people for leadership.

For many children in poverty, the picture is bleak. Children who fail to graduate from high school face extraordinary challenges in life: they are four times more likely to be unemployed and 47 times more likely to be incarcerated than their peers who graduate from college. Low educational attainment can even be considered deadly: mortality rates for high school dropouts are three times higher than for students who pursue college.

But with challenge comes opportunity. When children attend Catholic schools, they are 42 percent more likely to graduate from high school and two-and-a-half times more likely to graduate from college.

In other words, Catholic schools have the proven capacity to close the achievement gap between low income and minority children and their more affluent peers.


ACE Academies Program


• The Notre Dame ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education) initiative is a comprehensive program that strengthens, sustains and transforms Catholic K-12 schools around the country. 

• In Tucson, the University of Notre Dame has directed more than $1 million in financial investment since 2010 to counteract the challenges that face many urban Catholic schools in America: low enrollment, financial instability, outdated governance.

• Through this innovative model of university-school partnership, Notre Dame provides intensive on-site support to ACE Academies’ teachers and principals--from classroom instruction to resource management to leadership development.

• Notre Dame is raising money for tuition support – thanks to Arizona’s scholarship tax credit law—that enables more children to take advantage of Catholic education. So far Notre Dame has raised more than $1 million in new scholarship tax credit dollars for NDAA families, creating or increasing scholarships for more than 300 families.

• The ACE Academies in Tucson are closing the achievement gap.  All three schools experienced dramatic student achievement gains at rates significantly higher than expected in the first year of partnership with Notre Dame.  In some classrooms, the average student demonstrated 1.5 years of growth in math and reading in a single year. Across the board, ACE students gained an additional month or two of learning in every content area in the first year.  

The momentum generated by growth in enrollment and gains in student achievement serves as the springboard to a capital campaign that will transform these schools and their surrounding communities. As Pope Benedict reminds us, every child deserves an education in faith, and the Notre Dame ACE Academies need your help to live up to that promise. The future of the Tucson community depends on it.

Ways to Give

By contributing to the Notre Dame ACE Academies campaign, you will shape the lives of hundreds of students today and thousands in generations to come. There are several ways to make a gift, including:

• Outright gifts
• Campaign pledges up to three years
• Transfer of securities
• Naming opportunities, and gifts in honor or memory of a loved one

Gifts to the Notre Dame ACE Academies campaign will offer much-needed flexibility in meeting our goals. However, you may designate your gift to a particular school or project area.

Donors interested in supporting the schools in other ways might consider adding to the schools’ modest endowment funds.

The Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson is the fiscal sponsor for this campaign.  All contributions will remain local, with each gift allocated toward the capital improvements or endowments of the schools.

Checks should be made payable to the Catholic Foundation for the benefit of the Notre Dame ACE Academies campaign. 

Gifts may also be made through this website or by contacting:

Development Officer:

Emilie Doleshel
Development Director, Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tucson

For information on how to make an estate gift to benefit the ACE Academies, please contact the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson at

Donor Recognition

We appreciate every donor and all gifts to the Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tucson. All contributors will be recognized for their generosity unless they request otherwise. We would also be pleased to discuss various naming opportunities at the individual schools.

Ways to Give


Notre Dame Ace Academies Donate Button



Paving the Path to College and Heaven 

"St. John and Santa Cruz Catholic Schools are making a huge difference serving families on the south side of Tucson.  Your support of the Notre Dame ACE Academies schools’ capital campaign will benefit generations of young people whose gifts will enhance our community."

~Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas



Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson
Stewardship and Charitable Giving
64 East Broadway Boulevard, Tucson AZ 85701
Phone: 520.838.2504 | Fax: 520.838.2585

Copyright 2017 Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson