Faith Life

About CatholicLink

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.

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

The trio of school leaders are joined in their leadership efforts by Mrs. Mary Schaupp, executive director of CatholicLink, who can be reached by email.

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.

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 hosted its first middle school leadership conference in February 2021 for a pilot group of GRACE students. About 20 seventh-grade students from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and Holy Family Catholic School virtually joined 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 was held virtually in April. Julia Johnson, an education major at St. Norbert College, led the student leadership efforts.

Following the successful pilot of the FaithLink Leadership Academy last year, CatholicLink is launching a second, expanded cohort of school leadership teams in August 2021. 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.

“I think that this is a rare program where change and progress really happen. You don’t see that with a lot of high school programs and I hope we can continue that.”

Camden, Notre Dame Academy

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.

“The CatholicLink Leadership program is incredibly meaningful to me because I’ve always enjoyed taking on leadership positions, but I’ve never been involved in something so focused on cultivating the qualities of a truly good leader in me. I also love being a part of real programs and changes in our school community and the community as a whole.”

-Adalyn, Notre Dame Academy

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 in February 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 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.

“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, Holy Family Catholic School

Building Middle School Leaders

After leading the CatholicLink Middle School Leadership Conference in May, six Notre Dame Academy students participated in a week-long design sprint led by Abbie Withbroe, educator at St. John the Baptist, and Jaime Danen of Notre Dame Academy. The goal of the week was to develop a student-led character and leadership program for students from kindergarten through high school. The program they developed, Building Character, Growing Leaders, will help students develop the virtues and skills of strong leaders to impact their school and broader communities positively.

Throughout the summer, two of the students continued the work of the design sprint week to develop this leadership program which is now being piloted in three schools: St. John the Baptist, Notre Dame of De Pere, and Notre Dame Academy.

At all middle schools, students are leading and organizing leadership clubs that meet twice a month. The first meeting of the month consists of playing games and working on leadership skills, whereas during the second meeting the students plan lessons and activities which will be taught in K-5 classrooms. At Notre Dame Academy 15 students are involved in the rollout of the program. They have named this program Notre Dame Leadership Academy (NDLA) and are working hard to involve many more students into the program.

Jamie Danen, Literacy Specialist and Equity Coordinator of Notre Dame Academy states, “This is an entirely student-led program. Students decide what the outcomes will be, how we will get there, and what it will look like when we are successful. They are intent on making this a program that is appealing to all students at NDA. Additionally, they are running each meeting, planning each event, and making deliberate decisions about what will and won’t be included in the program. I have never been involved with a group of students who have so genuinely owned their leadership position and are so excited to train and prepare the next generation of leaders for this program.”

This program was supported by a grant to CatholicLink from the Kern Family Foundation and the students are excited to continue to develop and grow the program for all GRACE schools.

“I learned a lot at the Leadership Conference, like how a good leader acts and the character traits a good leader displays.”

-Isabelle, 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 education graduates who teach at Notre Dame Academy or GRACE for three consecutive years immediately after graduation from SNC (applies to SNC since 2015)

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

For employees of CatholicLink partners, please contact your Human Resources Department for the tuition discount policy and application. For employees of our GRACE affiliated parishes, please contact your parish administrator/business manager.

“The Catholic Link leadership program has been infinitely beneficial for me. It’s helped me improve in my confidence, organizational skills, communication skills, and, of course, leadership skills. I feel prepared for my future because of my work with CatholicLink.”

-Eli, Notre Dame 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, Notre Dame Academy and St. Norbert College. 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.

About CatholicLink member institutions


The Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) system includes nine schools providing excellence in preschool through eighth-grade education (including one school that is adding high school grades with Chesterton Academy of St. John Paul II Classical School) 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. For more information, please visit

Notre Dame Academy

Notre Dame Academy, a well-respected 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. For more information, please visit

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. For more information, please visit

CatholicLink Executive Director

For more information about CatholicLink, please contact Executive Director Mrs. Mary Schaupp.