Ascension Catholic Academy, a ministry of Ascension parish, is a consortium of schools, with centralized leadership and governance of multiple schools to deliver academic excellence and coordinate efforts to serve the whole child. It is the result of more than a year of study by Church of the Ascension and its partners on the best strategy to ensure excellence and sustainability in Catholic schools serving low-income scholars and families in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. Three schools are currently in the consortium: St. Peter Claver, St. John Paul II and Ascension Catholic School. Each of these schools primarily serves scholars who come from diverse backgrounds, with a large majority in need of additional academic and social support.
The bold vision of the Academy is to ensure that Catholic schools are a key part of the solution to the Achievement Gap that is entrenched in the urban cores of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The Academy will become a network of excellent Catholic schools that offers a rigorous academic program of value to scholars, families, schools, parishes and the Twin Cities community. Our ultimate aim is that every scholar will realize a future full of hope through the opportunity that education and faith can bring forth.
GHR Foundation and Ascension are partners in this endeavor. GHR support has allowed Ascension to fully investigate the feasibility of the Ascension Catholic Academy and make strategic plans for its success.
The Academy will combine the best elements of each of the schools and create value in four key ways:
1. Improved centralized leadership and governance. This structure is highly effective and efficient, and it will generate cross learning in which the Academy schools share, refine and grow together.
2. Increased neighborhood stability as the Academy schools continue to grow as a financially viable and vital partner of the inner city neighborhoods that each school serves.
3. Support for local schools that serve the unique needs of each neighborhood and maintain a unique identify, culture, and community connection.
4. Increased affordability for families seeking faith-based schools with rigorous academics that support the development of the whole child.
The Academy serves a total of 528 scholars in the 2017-18 School Year.
• Free/Reduced Lunch: 81%
• Students of Color: 94%
• ELL Students: 31%
• Catholic: 45%
The Academy approaches school excellence in a comprehensive way. It is focused on six key pillars, each of which contributes to an excellent Catholic school:
• Academic excellence
• Holistic scholar support
• Catholic identity
• Financial sustainability
• Academic staff advancement and talent management
• Marketing and enrollment
The vision of the Academy is to significantly expand upon Ascension’s success ─ in continually expanding the quality of academics, providing holistic scholar supports, recruiting scholars, and building a base of financial support from the broad community ─ to grow this same quality and impact in challenged Catholic schools serving inner city neighborhoods. The Academy is committed to ensuring academic growth so that every scholar is prepared to graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary education.
The Academy will truly transform all three schools, and we believe its success will also have a trickledown effect on other schools in the Archdiocese.