About CatholicLink

(Updated Jan. 15, 2021)

CatholicLink is an innovative, preschool-through-college partnership of the Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) school system, Notre Dame Academy and St. Norbert College, with the mission of attaining world-class Catholic education in the greater Green Bay area.

The partnership is unique and has drawn interest from communities across the country looking to learn from and model the CatholicLink partnership. The goal of CatholicLink is to continually grow the enrollment of vibrant Catholic schools that provide educational excellence.

When CatholicLink began in 2014, teams were formed with members across the partner organizations to brainstorm new ways of thinking and working and to create programs that strengthen the entire continuum of Catholic education from preschool through college.

GRACE President Kimberly Desotell (left), Notre Dame Academy President Tom Kiely (middle) and St. Norbert College President Brian Bruess (right).

In addition to the ongoing hard work of these teams, the partner presidents, Kimberly Desotell of GRACE, Tom Kiely of Notre Dame Academy, and Brian Bruess of St. Norbert College, are highly committed to CatholicLink and meet regularly to share knowledge, expertise and ideas.

New relationships have been forged across schools and departments, as together the CatholicLink community works to strengthen and share the benefits of Catholic education with as many students and families as possible.

These teams have ideated a number of innovative and successful programs including the CatholicLink Tuition Discount and the CatholicLink Award. The CatholicLink Tuition Discount provides a 50 percent tuition discount for employees’ children at partner schools. The CatholicLink Award is a $5,000 award offered to St. Norbert College education graduates who teach at either Notre Dame Academy or any GRACE school for three years.

A recent example of the value of CatholicLink relationships is the way GRACE leaders reached out to their colleagues at St. Norbert College for help in rapidly assembling the COVID Response Academic Achievement Committee, which is featured in this newsletter.

CatholicLink currently has partner teams focused on the areas of leadership development, innovation and messaging the value of Catholic education. CatholicLink aims to grow strong mission-driven leaders and teams that are changing minds, hearts and lives through its leadership development programs for students and educators.

In partnership with Cardinal Gibbons Catholic High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, CatholicLink is hosting its first middle school leadership conference in February for a pilot group of GRACE students. About 20 seventh-grade students from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and Holy Family Catholic School will virtually join students from Cardinal Gibbons High School and Notre Dame Academy to learn about mission-driven leadership. The CatholicLink High School Leadership Conference for sophomores at Notre Dame Academy and Cardinal Gibbons will be held virtually in April. Julia Johnson, an education major at St. Norbert College, is leading the student leadership efforts.

Following the successful pilot of the FaithLink Leadership Academy last year, CatholicLink will launch a second, expanded cohort of school leadership teams in early August. The leadership academy is directed toward educators with a goal to foster vibrant, faith-based school cultures focused on excellence and growth. The participants of the first cohort of the leadership program strongly recommend the program for their colleagues and have indicated significant growth in both their leadership skills and faith along with a renewed passion for their work in Catholic education.

Much of CatholicLink’s efforts have been focused on growing and sharing the great value of Catholic education and numbers best show the results. When the CatholicLink partnership was formed in 2014, about 60 percent of GRACE eighth-graders chose to attend Notre Dame Academy. Six years later, 76 percent of the GRACE class of 2020 became members of Notre Dame Academy’s freshman class.

The value of the continuum of Catholic education continues and grows with the outstanding work of our partners. Watch for upcoming stories of accomplished graduates from GRACE, Notre Dame Academy and St. Norbert College as we share how a Catholic education shapes scholars, builds character, unlocks potential, and so much more.

If you know of an inspiring story of one of our Catholic school students or graduates, please email catholiclink@snc.edu.

The work of CatholicLink continues on these projects and others, with great thanks to our educational partners, team members and community supporters. Please share your ideas with us!

Mary Schaupp serves as the executive director of CatholicLink. She can be reached at mary.schaupp@snc.edu.

CatholicLink Focus Areas

CatholicLink has identified three focus areas where, by working together, partners can positively impact their ability to deliver world-class Catholic education. The three focus areas are:

Leadership Development: CatholicLink has developed and launched the alpha pilot of CatholicLeader Academy, a faith-based program to develop mission-driven leaders and teams that are changing minds, hearts and lives.

Sharing Our Story: CatholicLink is developing a data-backed marketing playbook that effectively communicates the value of Catholic education to drive enrollment growth.

Envisioning the Future: CatholicLink has developed a team that is identifying and understanding trends that will impact the future of Catholic education, as well as using design thinking to address those trends with innovative solutions.

What is CatholicLink? – The Video

Middle School Leadership Conference

More than 20 GRACE students from Holy Family Catholic School and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School participated in the inaugural CatholicLink Middle School Leadership Conference on Feb. 24, 2021. The event was held virtually in collaboration with students from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. The pilot program also included several students from Notre Dame de la Baie Academy. The Leadership Conference is designed to help determine how to increase student leadership at our three CatholicLink sites – which include GRACE, Notre Dame Academy and St. Norbert College – and learn how best to expand participation in the conference to additional schools in the future.

GRACE students came away invigorated by the event. Among their comments:

  • “What I learned from the Leadership Conference is that we all have our own unique way to be a leader. We can change the world by our actions.” – Analucia I., Holy Family Catholic School
  • “I learned a lot at the Leadership Conference, like how a good leader acts and the character traits a good leader displays.” – Isabelle F., Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School
  • “The Leadership Conference taught me so much, not only about taking charge but also about helping others become a leader. It showed that I can help change the world some day.” – Emma C., Holy Family Catholic School
  • “I would totally suggest going to this Leadership Conference. We learned so many things that will help us and so many things that will help others.” – Lauren V., Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School

CatholicLink Benefits

In support of CatholicLink goals, the following benefits are offered to those working within Catholic schools:

  • 50% tuition waiver for employees’ children
  • Expertise in admissions, marketing, fundraising, alumni relations, athletics and professional education
  • $5,000 stipend for St. Norbert College graduates who teach at Notre Dame Academy or GRACE for three consecutive years

An additional benefit of the CatholicLink partnership is the extension of the CatholicLink tuition discount to benefit-eligible employees from the 23 affiliated parishes.

GRACE teacher Taylor Baltus (pictured), a St. Norbert College graduate who works at St. Bernard Catholic School, received a $5,000 grant in 2019 for her dedication to Catholic education. It was the second year grants were presented. The inaugural grant awardees in 2018 included Margaret Hogan, GRACE-St. John the Baptist Catholic School; Miranda VandenBoomen, GRACE-St. Bernard Catholic School; and Katie Summers, GRACE-Notre Dame of De Pere.

CatholicLeader Academy

CatholicLeader Academy, a comprehensive leadership development program to develop mission-driven leaders and teams, was launched in August 2019.

The outcomes and feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, comparing it to some of the most widely recognized leadership development programs in the country. The program is expanding in August 2020 to welcome teams from CatholicLink partner schools as well as parish and school teams from across the Diocese of Green Bay. Within a 12-month period, CatholicLeader Academy will be rolled out to welcome all members of the pilot parish and school teams into CatholicLeader Academy.

Please click HERE for more about CatholicLeader Academy.

CatholicLink Society

The CatholicLink Society is comprised of individuals who have attended two of the three CatholicLink institutions as part of their educational journey. In addition, a special and unique segment of the CatholicLink Society are Trifectas, who represent those who have graduated from all three CatholicLink institutions: GRACE, NDA and SNC.

These honorees are recognized through this Society for their commitment to Catholic education.

If you or someone you know is part of the CatholicLink Society and has not yet been recognized, please email CatholicLink at mary.schaupp@snc.edu.

More Information


The Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) system includes nine schools providing excellence in preschool through eighth-grade education and serves the 23 Catholic parishes within the Greater Green Bay community. GRACE schools range in offerings and locations, and each has its own distinct history, focus and parish connections. GRACE is one of the largest Catholic school systems in the state of Wisconsin. www.gracesystem.org

Notre Dame Academy

Notre Dame Academy, the premier Catholic high school in Green Bay, embraces more than 120 years of educational excellence. The caring, faith-filled environment welcomes students from across the region and the world through its international program. Notre Dame Academy students hold a 99% college admission and attendance rate. www.notredameacademy.com

St. Norbert College

The only Norbertine college in the world, St. Norbert is a four-year, Catholic liberal arts college devoted to the Norbertine traditions of community, prayer and service to others. Founded in 1898 by Abbot Bernard Pennings, the residential campus today serves about 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the United States and more than 30 countries. The academic excellence of the college is nationally recognized by U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges. www.snc.edu

By coming together in dialogue we are finding ways to help one another in providing exceptional, faith-based, educational experiences for our students.” ~ Abbot Dane Radecki, O.Praem., former GRACE President and founding CatholicLink contributor

To see photos from the Spring 2019 CatholicLink meeting, please click here.

Learn More

CatholicLink News

CatholicLink Video – Spring 2017

CatholicLink Video – Spring 2015