El Camino Faith Formation

Children of El Camino will discover and celebrate that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.  Emboldened by a developed faith life, strong morals and character, and high academic achievement, they will live as Gospel witnesses.

Background

The vast majority (over 80 percent) of all Catholic children in America now attend public schools. For the 5 million or more of our Catholic children who live in poverty, too many are attending troubled public schools. Children not enrolled in Catholic schools generally have the option to attend weekly catechetical classes. These classes do all that they can, but with limited funding and time, they can only cover the bare minimum of catechesis, and cannot connect the sacred with the secular in the way that Catholic schools are best suited to do.

As more Catholic schools close in our inner cities, and fewer of our neediest children have access to a Catholic education, an opportunity arises to provide a new way to share Judeo-Christian values and the Catholic faith with children who cannot afford to attend Catholic schools.

About El Camino

In August 2013, Seton Education Partners launched El Camino, an afterschool faith and enrichment program in a largely Latino neighborhood in the South Bronx, where over half of all families fall below the poverty line. Our call: to create a financially sustainable way to provide rich and engaging faith formation and academic tutoring for underserved children who cannot afford even the low tuition at most urban Catholic schools.

El Camino, which means “The Way” in Spanish, aims to help underserved children shine through Catholic faith formation, character development, and targeted academic support through a fun and enriching after school program. Broadly, we want to help our children to know and love Christ better, to grow in virtue, to achieve academic success, and to have fun. The program is modeled after a much smaller and very successful pilot program that Seton launched in Oakland, CA, which is showcased in this video

El Camino serves over 180 kindergarten through fourth-grade children for two and a half hours, Monday through Thursday. Each day children receive homework help from credentialed teachers, a nutritious snack, and 45 minutes each of catechism and physical fitness. Additionally, children and families have opportunities for shared and personal prayer and character formation. 

The program will grow to serve children in kindergarten through 8th grade, growing a grade level at a time each year. We hope to launch several new sites over the next five years.

Our Partnerships

El Camino has an innovative partnership with Brilla College Prep, a high performing charter school, and with Seton Teaching Fellows, who teach catechism and enrichment classes in El Camino. 

Our Results

Now in its fourth year of operation, El Camino has demonstrated that an optional, daily faith formation program can serve parents who don’t have a safe place for their children after school and be the highlight of a child’s day. Here are some of our results:

  • Over 180 children participate daily in El Camino.
  • 85% of parents said the program helped their children behave better.
  • 97% of families said their child developed a better knowledge and love of God through the program.
  • When asked, “What is your child’s favorite part about El Camino?” 73% said, “learning about God.” The remainder cited either activities or sports.
  • 59 children chose to be baptized since the inception of El Camino. 

Find more information about our results here.

2016 Baptism