Even as overall enrollment has declined steeply in recent years, Catholic schools are finding the percentage of Hispanic students enrolled steadily increasing. Recent reports estimate that Hispanics comprise about 13 percent of Catholic elementary schools.
But for new immigrant students to be successful academically, they often face a few more obstacles than their English-speaking counterparts; namely language fluency and familiarity with American school culture. And often, their families are far less versed in these areas than the students.
A pilot program, La Familia Extendida, seeks to encourage greater academic success among Hispanic students by reaching out to entire families with training in the English language and help in navigating the transition to American life. La Familia is a joint effort of the University of Notre Dame’s MBA program and the Holy Cross College Teacher Education Program. It partners with a local Catholic school in the South Bend area and provides volunteers, activities and educational materials to build trust with school families and improve student performance in the process.