The Story of CISE

In the early 1980s, the inner-city neighborhoods of Cincinnati were undergoing a major change. Demographics were shifting, poverty rates were on the rise, and the Catholic schools were closing as a result. Rather than allow these schools to be closed or be unused, CISE was founded to provide inner-city children, regardless of religious background or economic circumstance, with the opportunity to have a quality education in a neighborhood Catholic school.

The first CISE campaign was instituted in 1982 by the Archbishop of Cincinnati, Joseph Bernadin, and businessmen Ralph Lazarus and Edward Harness. This triad of community leaders of three different faiths united with the mutual goal of utilizing these parish schools, providing Catholic school opportunities for challenged families, and leveraging the generosity of the broader community. This initial campaign raised $45,000 and was a revolutionary new source of funding for CISE.

While CISE started as an effort to keep vulnerable inner-city elementary schools open, it has evolved into a comprehensive solution aimed at alleviating poverty and fighting inequality through access to quality education. CISE accomplishes this through excellent academics, the formation of values for life, and a safe, structured, and supportive environment in which all are welcome.

Maintaining an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere is essential to CISE as 74% of CISE school students are non-Catholic, and 85% are minorities. The competitive academic advantage of CISE produces results.  95% of CISE third-graders passed the Third Grade Reading Guarantee – outperforming the statewide average. This an important literacy milestone as research shows that learning to read early and well in the primary grades positively impacts students in later years. 86% of 8th-grade graduates are accepted into Catholic high schools. Many CISE students are also among the first in their families to attend college; 94% of CISE students who graduate from Catholic high school are accepted into college. In addition to excellent academics, the formation of critical values such as discipline, responsibility, perseverance, respect, and cooperation that extend far beyond the years of formal education are provided in CISE schools. While CISE is proud of these accomplishments and the life-changing impact they have on the over 2,100 students they serve, CISE acknowledges that their work has just begun.

Cincinnati is in the midst of a childhood poverty crisis. It is imperative for CISE to expand its reach to serve more students in the region.

CISE Staff

Mabe Rodriguez – Executive Director/President

Dr. Cate O’Brien – Assistant Director of School Programs

Debbie Weitz – Assistant Director of Development

 Mikayla Germain – Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications

Tammy Miller – Accountant

Frances Dudley – Administrative Assistant

Board of Trustees

Mrs. Cynthia Kenny, Chair

Mr. Lawrence H. Kyte, Jr., Secretary

Mr. Donald L. Mellott, Jr., Treasure

Mrs. Mabe Rodriguez, President

Rev. Steve Angi

Mrs. Patricia Armstrong

Mr. Joe Bride

Fr. Eugene Contadino S.M

Mr. Matthew Fellerhoff

Mr. Tom Finn

Dr. Robert Flick 

Ms. Susan M. Gibbons

Mr. J. Scott Golan

Mr. Matt Grever

Mr. James B. Hagerty

Ms. Patricia Headley

Mr. Robert J. Hodge

Mr. Tom Jennings, CFO

Mr. John K. Jones

 Sr. Catherine Kirby, S.C. 

Dr. Jane Knudson

Ms. Lelia Keefe Kramer

Mr. Phil McHugh

Mr. E. Paul Naberhaus



Mrs. Susan Pichler

Mr. H. Nicholas Ragland, III

Mr. Christopher Rueve

Mr. Harry Stanten

Ms. Ann G. Schoen

Dr. William P. Shula 

Mrs. Katelyn Smith

Mrs. Louise Stakelin

Mr. Eddie Tyner

Mr. Jay Vollmer 

Mr. David Williams

Mr. Andrew Williamson

Rev. James Bok, OFM (Emeritus)

Mr. Jack Bunker (Emeritus)

Mr. Harry Fath (Emeritus)

Mr. Richard F. Greiwe (Emeritus)

M. Robert E. Stautberg (Emeritus)

Mrs. Susan Tew (Emeritus)