About CISE

Catholic Inner-city Schools Education

For more than 40 years we have served children in Cincinnati’s underserved neighborhoods. Founded in 1980 by three city leaders of different faiths, the CISE mission is to transform the lives of urban children living in poverty by providing access to a strong Catholic education. This is done where it is needed most, in ten Cincinnati neighborhood schools funded by CISE. Research substantiates that a quality education is the most effective way to eliminate poverty. Our unique family of CISE schools gives students, 90% facing poverty, access to a quality education. This caring and nurturing approach in an environment of respect, safety, and discipline will rewrite futures.

The first CISE campaign was instituted in 1982 by the Archbishop of Cincinnati Joseph Bernardin 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.

CISE started as an effort to keep vulnerable inner-city elementary schools open, but 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 67% of CISE school students are non-Catholic and 89% are from a minority background. The competitive academic advantage of CISE produces results.  Many CISE students are among the first in their families to attend college.

In addition to excellent academics, the formation of critical values such as responsibility, perseverance, respect, discipline, and cooperation extend far beyond the years of formal education provided in CISE schools. We are proud of these accomplishments and the life-changing impact made on the over 2,600 students served in CISE supported schools, but we also acknowledges that CISE’s work has just begun.



Phil McHugh
President & Executive Director

Dr. Cate O’Brien
Director of School Programs

Michelle Kiigi
Office Coordinator & Donor Relations Manager

Tammy Miller
Staff Accountant 

Kelly Camm
Director of Development

Debi Haines
Director of Marketing & Communication

Sean O’Brien
Staff Accountant for Management of School Funds &

Mike Kennedy
Director of High School Scholarship Programs

Jessica Beck
Administrative Assistant School Programs

Debbie Weitz
Support, Donor Relations

Mari Thomas
CTE Feasibility Study


Board of Trustees

David Williams, Chair
Allison Kropp, Vice Chair
Matthew Fellerhoff, Secretary
Ryan Alleman, Treasurer
Phil McHugh, President 
Don Mellott, Immediate Past Chair

Patricia Armstrong
William Baechtold
Samuel Burchenal
Patrick Burke
Kelly Dehan
Scott Enders
Thomas Finn
Dr. Robert Flick
Scott Golan

Matthew Grever
James Hagerty
Leon Hampton
Patricia Headley
Cynthia Kenny 
Dr. Jane Knudson
Lawrence Kyte, Jr.
Paul Naberhaus
Elizabeth Niehaus
Susan Pichler
Penny Pomeranz
Timothy Reilly
Christopher Rueve
Harry Santen
Ann Schoen
Dr. William Shula

Louise Stakelin
Matthew Stautberg
Diane Tarvardian
Andrew Williamson
Deacon Royce Winters

Emeritus Members
Rev. James Bok, OFM 
Jack Bunker 
Harry Fath 
Richard Greiwe
Robert Hodge, Posthumously
Nick Ragland
Robert Stautberg 
Susan Tew