Seton Education Partners

The Grants

  • April 2014: $100,000 grant for general operating support
  • April 2013: $100,000 grant for general operating support
  • April 2012: $25,000 grant for general operating support and $75,000 grant to support a new charter school in the South Bronx
  • October 2010: $75,000 grant for general operating support, which was matched by the Walton Foundation for a total of $150,000
  • November 2009: $25,000 grant for general operating support
  • March 2009: $25,000 grant for start-up support

The Background:

Despite their well demonstrated success building the knowledge, skills, and character of children in America’s poorest neighborhoods for more than a century, Catholic schools have seen enrollment plummet by more than 50% over the last four decades. Over 1,600 Catholic schools in America have shut down since 2000. A majority of the schools that closed served large numbers of Hispanic and African-American elementary school children in the inner cities. If this trend continues, children will have few, if any, options beyond the failing public schools in their neighborhoods. It is imperative that Catholic schools find innovative solutions to cut operation costs while being able to maintain their academic standards and success.

The Grantee:

Founded in 2009, Seton Education Partners seeks to help revive and expand opportunities for disadvantaged children in America to receive an academically excellent and authentically Catholic education.

Seton has been a leader in installing blended learning in Catholic elementary schools. Known as the “Phaedrus Initiative,” this blended learning curriculum includes computer-based instruction that comprises roughly 25% of instructional time. Classrooms are rearranged to create separate learning areas within the class, including a computer lab space. Teachers are able to separate students into small groups and rotate them between stations throughout the day, with half of the students spending time on the computers doing educational programming and half spending time in small-group instruction with the teacher. The effective use of this model allows schools to increase class sizes while giving Students more individualized attention, and potentially reduce staff costs. The computer programs efficiently track individual student work and growth, providing feedback that allows teachers to tailor instruction.

The Impact:

The Phaedrus Initiative was first launched in September 2011 at Mission Dolores Academy, a San Francisco Catholic elementary school. By 2012, the blended learning program saved the school $513,000 in operating costs, helped students grow academically, and increased interest in program that resulted in increased enrollment.

Based on the results from the first year in San Francisco, schools from across the country expressed interest in implementing the Phaedrus Initiative. In September 2013, the Phaedrus Initiative expanded to St. Anne School and The DePaul Catholic School, Catholic elementary schools in Santa Monica and Philadelphia. Since joining the Seton Blended Learning Network, DePaul’s enrollment has increased by 30% while Saint Anne’s increased by 10%.

Seventy-nine percent of the students at Seton launch sites achieved one or more years of progress in reading while 84% achieved one or more years of progress in math. Every Seton blended learning class ranked in the top third of U.S. classrooms for student growth and 79% of reading and math classes demonstrated growth above the 90th percentile. One-third of classes ranked in the top 1% for growth nationally.

In 2014-2015, three new schools will join the Seton Blended Learning Network—Nativity Jesuit Academy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; St. Joseph School in Cincinnati, Ohio; and St. Gertrude the Great School in Los Angeles, California. With these new members, the Seton Blended Learning Network will serve roughly 1,300 students across six schools in five cities nationwide.