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, 91% living in poverty, access to a quality education. This caring and nurturing approach in an environment of respect, safety, and discipline will rewrite futures.

CISE is the support behind ten elementary schools in Cincinnati’s poorest neighborhoods. Our annual CISE campaign covers up to 1/4 of the schools’ budgets.  These Catholic schools would not exist without CISE.

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 66% of CISE school students are non-Catholic and 88% are minorities. 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. While CISE is proud of these accomplishments and the life-changing impact they have on the over 2,600 students they serve, CISE acknowledges 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

Philip R. McHugh
President and Interim 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 & Communications

Jessica Beck
Administrative Assistant/Grade School

Frances Dudley
Assistant/High Schools

Debbie Weitz
Donor Relations Support

Sharon Civitello
Marketing Support


CISE Board of Trustees​

Donald Mellott, Chair
David Williams
, Vice Chair
Allison Kropp, Secretary
Ryan Alleman, Treasurer
Philip McHugh, President 

Patricia Armstrong
William J. Baechtold
Samuel R. Burchenal
Patrick J. Burke
Kelly Dehan
Scott Enders
Matthew Fellerhoff
Thomas L. Finn
Dr. Robert Flick
J. Scott Golan
Matthew L Grever

James B. Hagerty
Leon Hampton
Patricia Headley
Cynthia Kenny 
Dr. Jane Knudson
Lelia Keefe Kramer
Lawrence H. Kyte, Jr.
Paul Naberhaus
Elizabeth Niehaus
Susan Pichler
Penny Pomeranz
Timothy J. Reilly
Christopher Rueve
Harry H. Santen
Ann G. Schoen
Dr. William Shula

Louise Stakelin
Matthew Stautberg
Diane M. Tarvardian
Jay Vollmer
Andrew Williamson
Deacon Royce Winters

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

Click here to learn more about our CISE Board Members.