Who We Are
SETON EDUCATION PARTNERS expands opportunities for parents in underserved communities to choose an academically excellent, character rich, and—for those who seek it—vibrantly Catholic education for their children. As a national non-profit, Seton partners with (arch)dioceses and others across the country to implement innovative and sustainable new models that bridge the best of Catholic education's rich tradition with new possibilities. Seton was born of the belief that a tremendous opportunity exists to revitalize urban Catholic schools in America and strengthen the education they provide. The challenges are significant, to be sure, but with an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, much can and should be done, not only to preserve this national treasure, but also to build on its foundation for the benefit of thousands of children in America’s most underserved neighborhoods.
Saving a National Treasure
Despite their well-established “brand name” and demonstrated success building the knowledge, skills, and character of children in America’s most underserved neighborhoods for more than a century, Catholic schools have seen enrollment plummet by more than 50 percent over the last four decades. Since 2006, more than 1500 Catholic schools have been closed or consolidated, accelerating a school closure rate of about 1,000 per decade since 1960. Most of these were elementary schools in our inner cities, serving large numbers of Hispanic and African-American children. If this trend continues over the next two decades, most of the remaining 3,000 urban Catholic schools will cease to exist, leaving over 900,000 children with few if any options beyond the failing public schools in their neighborhoods (and providing urban district schools substantially less competition). Declining enrollment and rising operating costs are the main causes for this extraordinary collapse of urban Catholic education—a character-building, Americanizing, opportunity-equalizing force.
Seton Education Partners is a national effort to strategically infuse creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, talented leadership, and public dollars to find a new way forward for urban Catholic education.