CUSP was formed to respond to the needs of some of the poorest inner city schools in the Archdiocese of Newark. Each school possesses committed and caring faculty and staff with great potential, but they need support to achieve more.

Serving Wave after Wave of Immigrants

Historically, Catholic schools have played a vital role in the communities in which they reside. They have served wave after wave of immigrants and provided an excellent education to families while forging a feeling of community. Today inner-city Catholic schools continue to serve immigrants — but they face many more challenges.

While the immigrants of yesterday were largely Western European, today’s immigrants hail from all corners of the globe — from Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Like their predecessors, they come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their children.

Our CUSP schools are a part of one of the largest, most ethnically-diverse dioceses in the nation. Census data shows that there are as many as 192 languages spoken in homes in this region and many of these are represented in the CUSP schools. The average income for families at CUSP schools is less than half that of the NJ state average.

Understanding and Overcoming Challenges

Many children at our CUSP schools face a series of challenges at home, challenges they bring to school each day along with their book bags. Food and housing insecurity, unstable employment, and violence in their neighborhoods constitute for many students a daily reality that affects their ability to learn.

Research from the American Psychological Association shows that children from disadvantaged economic backgrounds develop academic skills slower than children from higher-income earning environments. They are less likely to have experiences that develop skills in the areas of reading, phonics, and vocabulary. Many also have less access to items commonly found in more affluent homes such as books, computers, or skill-building toys.

In a different well-known study, researchers found that children from lower income families hear 30 million fewer words by the time they reach age 3 than do those from families with more resources. These children need to catch up from the first day they step foot into school.

CUSP schools are exploring new strategies to meet this challenge including content-rich curriculum, meaningful after-school programs, and new technology that allows blended learning. By seeing each individual as a child of God and recognizing his or her intrinsic value, CUSP schools support students to reach their full potential.

Changing Lives

Research has found that in Catholic schools:

  • The student achievement gap is smaller than in public schools.
  • Overall academic achievement is higher.
  • Latino and African American students in Catholic schools are more likely to graduate from high school and college.

Nearly all graduates of Catholic high schools go to college. This is important for many reasons including life-time earnings. In 2015 college degree holders earned $48,500 per year, compared to those with high school diplomas only who earned $23,900. This means a college degree could translate into nearly a $1 million dollar difference in lifetime earnings. By sending their children to Catholic schools, families make the best choice not only for their own children, but for their communities.

CUSP Advisory Board

George Gurdak, CPA
Vice President
American Express (ret.)

Paola Hernandez
Senior Internal Communications Manager
Honeywell Performance Materials
and Technologies

Ariscielle Novicio
Vice President of Technology/
Chief Technology Officer

The New York Post

Susan M. Odenthal
Vice President, Public Affairs
Johnson & Johnson (ret.)

Joe Bonito
Senior Vice President
Bank of America

Mary M. Deatherage
Wealth Advisor

Brian Keenan
Build with a Purpose

Pat Lacognata
Senior Vice President of Development and School Partnerships
Catapult Learning

Nancy Matthews
Chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese
of Bridgeport, CT (ret.)

Anthony Nicotera, J.D.,
D.S.W., L.S.W.

Assistant Professor and Social Worker

Stephanie Macias Arlington
Executive Director, The Joseph A. Unanue
Latino Institute at Seton Hall University

Dave Carty
Director of Strategic Operations,
Kent Place School, Summit, NJ