Educational Initiatives

Updated October, 2022


While American higher education is the envy of the world, our K-12 system continues to falter in many respects, perhaps none more troubling than the persistent “achievement gap” between white and minority students. A recent study by McKinsey & Company suggests that this gap results in an annual three-to-four percent negative impact on GDP, the equivalent of a permanent national recession.

As a Catholic university, Notre Dame seeks to address the struggles of our education system as barriers to economic prosperity and community stability. Moreover, they are a call to act on behalf of the principles of human dignity, solidarity, and a preferential option for the poor that are integral to Catholic social teaching.

The Institute for Educational Initiatives is uniquely situated to help the University heed this call by providing interdisciplinary support for teaching, research, and service. More than 60 faculty fellows pursue entrepreneurial initiatives that improve the education of the young, particularly the disadvantaged, paying special—though not exclusive—attention to Catholic schools.

The institute comprises five major units: the Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program for Indiana (AP-TIP IN); the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE); the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO); the Education, Schooling, and Society undergraduate minor; and the Research Center on Educational Policy. Alongside several affiliated activities, the institute has also launched a Notre Dame Excellence in STEM Education Initiative to advance education in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

These distinct endeavors hold a set of commitments in common and seek ways to capitalize on synergies. Together, they deepen and broaden the institute’s scholarly inquiry into the field of education, enhancing its assessments of program effectiveness, expanding its array of services to children and formation programs for educators, and leveraging its signal ability to respond to opportunities that present themselves in unforeseen and providential ways.

Sensitive to the fact that the United States is in the midst of an era of unprecedented educational experimentation and innovation, the institute’s faculty and leadership will continue to affirm the University’s mission and faith tradition through a distinctive, dynamic engagement with the nation’s schools.


The Institute for Educational Initiatives strives to improve the education of all children, particularly the underserved, with an emphasis on Catholic schools. Animated by the Gospel call, the Institute’s formation of teachers and school leaders, translational research, and undergraduate and graduate programs advance Notre Dame’s commitment to increase educational opportunities that serve children locally, nationally, and globally.


Inspired by Catholic social teaching, which elevates the God-given dignity of all people and promotes the common good, the Institute will be a global leader in forming exceptional educators and generating useful research to foster excellent schools and systems. The Institute will increase educational opportunities that nurture human flourishing for all children and { lead to a more just world.


More than 60 faculty fellows pursue entrepreneurial initiatives that improve the education of the young, particularly the disadvantaged, paying special—though not exclusive—attention to Catholic schools.

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The Institute for Educational Initiatives has identified three overarching goals as part of its strategic planning process, each of which advances two or more of the five University-wide goals:

1. Increase the rigor, effectiveness, and integration of formation and research programs and pursue new initiatives aligned with mission and vision to expand educational opportunities for all children locally, nationally, and globally.


  1. Invest in significant expansion of data, evaluation, and research infrastructure to enhance the measurement of programmatic impact and to establish a strong foundation for research, practice, and inquiry relating to PK-12 education.
  2. Increase the effectiveness and impact of the Institute’s formation programs by enhancing the Institute’s culture of continuous improvement and leveraging evidence-based practices to address the expressed needs of the communities it serves.
  3. Leverage the Institute’s unique position at the intersection of scholarship and practice to generate research that feeds the development of better practices in its formation programs, while better practices in its formation programs provide results that inform and advance further research.
  4. Develop and embed a comprehensive approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion across the Institute’s formation and research programs that is distinctively focused on promoting human flourishing and the common good central to Catholic Social Teaching.
  5. Actively pursue new opportunities and resources aligned with the Institute’s mission and vision.

2. Recruit, develop, and retain a premier faculty and staff empowered to reach their full potential in forming outstanding educators and generating high-quality research.


  1. Recruit highly-qualified candidates for faculty and staff positions by conducting broad, equitable, and inclusive search processes with a particular focus on mission-alignment and diversity.
  2. Expand the Institute’s efforts in faculty and staff development in order to support ongoing professional growth.
  3. Develop new retention strategies for faculty and staff that consider the complex factors involved when working at the intersection of research, teaching, practice, and service.

3. Increase opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and program participants to engage in impactful practice and research to become leaders in education, schools, and society.


  1. Invest in the people and processes necessary to ensure successful recruitment and formation of talented, mission-driven students and participants across the Institute’s programs with a particular focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  2. Build on the Institute’s commitment to the integration of research and practice in order to provide its students, post-doctoral scholars, and program participants with experience in evidence-based practices and exposure to a broad range of research approaches.
  3. Deepen engagement of undergraduates with the Institute by creating and expanding pathways for students to develop their understanding and perspectives on the role of education and educational systems throughout the world.
  4. Expand opportunities for predoctoral graduate candidates and postdoctoral scholars to participate in robust research and training that support the Institute’s mission and vision.
  5. Enhance engagement of graduate students and non-degree seeking program participants in the Institute’s formation programs by applying and modeling asset- and strengths-based approaches to promote learning and growth.
  6. Offer opportunities for professional development and spiritual growth after program completion as part of ongoing personal formation and to increase the Institute’s impact on PK-12 education

4. Cultivate and develop collaborative partnerships across the University and with external stakeholders that are mutually beneficial in increasing shared impact.


  1. In conversation with University and external stakeholders, the Institute will assess existing partnerships, discuss strategies for strengthening them, and evaluate opportunities for new partnerships to advance the Institute’s mission.
  2. Increase the Institute’s collaborations with University partners, including Institute Fellows, to improve undergraduate education related to PK-12 educational practice and research.

5. Increase the Institute’s position and reputation as a premier thought leader locally, nationally, and globally on issues facing education, with a particular focus on PK-12 Catholic schools and systems.


  1. Develop a series of better practices to educate faculty and staff in communicating research and programs to varied audiences and provide opportunities to communicate to the public on PK-12 education.
  2. Host a diverse and robust group of speakers, symposia, and public events related to the Institute’s research, practice, mission, and vision.
  3. Create communications strategies designed to increase awareness of the Institute’s research and programs among external audiences and at Notre Dame.

6. Foster an organizational culture that optimizes the advancement of the Institute’s mission and vision, supported by appropriate structures and processes.


  1. Advance the Institute’s identity as the umbrella that unites and strengthens all programs and centers.
  2. Nurture models of leadership that advance inclusive, transparent, and supportive management practices and procedures.
  3. Foster a culture of inquiry and development of the whole person that values a Christ-centered perspective on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Learn more about the Institute for Educational Initiatives by visiting