The University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) today launched the "ACE Readers" program, a state-of-the-art childhood literacy program designed to combat the achievement gap that plagues at-risk communities. The program will be implemented in the Notre Dame ACE Academy (NDAA) schools in Tucson, Ariz., and was made possible by a $118,000 grant from Target as part of the retailer's campaign to improve education and reading.
"With Target's support, we are able to significantly strengthen literacy instruction in our partner schools," said Dr. Christian Dallavis, director of the NDAA initiative, noting that strong reading skills will bolster the students' future achievement. "The development of early childhood literacy is critical because children need to learn to read before they can read to learn. This grant provides the tools teachers need to ensure that the at-risk kids we serve can defy the odds by being on the path to college from a very young age."
Through Notre Dame's ACE movement to sustain, strengthen, and transform Catholic K-12 education, the NDAA partnerships were established in 2010 to offer comprehensive support at three under-resourced elementary schools in the Diocese of Tucson—St. John the Evangelist, St. Ambrose, andSanta Cruz. These university-school partnerships, the first of their kind in the nation, were formed at the invitation of Tucson's Bishop, the Most Rev. Gerald Kicanas.
ACE Readers combines research-proven methods to strengthen curriculum, instruction, and assessment in reading, with an emphasis on ensuring that every child reads at grade level or higher by grade three. New resources and activities spanning the schools' curriculum will transform literacy education for hundreds of Latino children from low-income families, many of whom do not speak English at home. The schools operate in a community—the southside of Tucson—where only half of the children are likely to graduate from high school.
"To ensure more students are reading proficiently by the end of third grade, and in turn graduating from high school on time, Target is dedicated to providing resources to help bring learning to life," said Laysha Ward, president of community relations at Target. "We're proud to partner with Notre Dame and the NDAA schools as part of our ongoing commitment to invest in innovative education programs that help keep children on the path to graduation." Target is donating $50 million this fall to educators, schools, and nonprofit organizations across the country, with a goal of $1 billion in giving by 2015, focused on education for reading.
NDAA's partnership in Tucson goes hand-in-hand with features of other ACE initiatives, including ACE Consulting, the Service through Teaching formation program for teachers, and the Catholic School Advantage campaign to offer the benefits of a Catholic school education to more Latino children around the nation.
ACE, whose formation initiative for Catholic school teachers was founded byRev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., and Rev. Sean McGraw, C.S.C., reflects Notre Dame's commitment to make a difference in K-12 education, along with the work of the University's Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI). Find out more about Notre Dame's commitment at ACEacademies.nd.edu, iei.nd.edu, and forum.nd.edu.