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November 2015

Santa Clara University’s School of Education and Counseling Psychology receives $1.1 million grant from the Sobrato Family Foundation

SANTA CLARA, Calif., November 4, 2015—Santa Clara University received a $1.1 million grant from The Sobrato Family Foundation to support initiatives for improving the quality of Catholic education.

The majority of the grant, $1 million, will fund the implementation and expansion of the Excellence in Catholic Education and Leadership (ExCEL) program offered through the University’s School of Education and Counseling Psychology. ExCEL is designed to increase the number of high-quality, credentialed teachers serving in Silicon Valley Catholic schools.

The remaining $100,000 will support a multi-year planning process to develop The 21st Century Educational Leadership Initiative, which strives to produce effective leaders in Silicon Valley Catholic, charter, and public schools and in Catholic parishes.

“We couldn't be more pleased about the grant and its endorsement of our efforts to prepare excellent Catholic school educators,” said Carol Ann Gittens, interim dean, School of Education and Counseling Psychology. “It shows the Sobrato Family Foundation’s confidence in the direction the School of Education and Counseling Psychology is headed with its Catholic school teacher prep residency program.

“The grant also represents a significant investment in our shared vision for developing innovative educational leadership initiatives. We consider the Sobrato Family Foundation founding partners of ExCEL and the 21st Century Education Leadership Initiative.”


ExCEL program students commit to teaching for three years in a partnering Diocese of San Jose school, to living a simple life in a community with their peers, and to engaging in an intentional spiritual life through reflection on the gospel and social justice.

“ExCEL is a graduate level teaching service program that supports K-12 Catholic Education in Silicon Valley and is a member of the University Consortium for Catholic Education.  The program is centered on and supported by three pillars: education and service through teaching, spirituality, and community living," said Paula Mitchell, director of ExCEL.

The ExCEL program will utilize the funds from the grant to enroll 40 intern teachers teaching more than 2,000 K-12 students in the Diocese of San Jose. With 24 percent of students enrolled in diocesan schools coming from underserved Latino communities, ExCEL will focus on preparing teachers for those schools that exhibit the highest needs.

In return for their service, ExCEL students earn a master’s degree in education from Santa Clara University at no cost, and become eligible for a California teaching credential when they meet all other certification requirements. Participants live together or in neighboring apartments rent-free, and are provided a modest stipend to cover other living expenses.

The expected outcome for the teaching interns is that at the end of their three-year experience they will remain in the Diocese of San Jose as fully credentialed and newly minted master’s degree-holding teachers.

The 21st Century Educational Leadership Initiative

The grant will also help fund the further development of The 21st Century Educational Leadership Initiative. The initiative encompasses and expands upon successful programs that have been launched through the School of Education’s Institute for Innovation in Catholic Education over the past 36 months, including:

  • The Academy for Blended Learning, which helps instructors use the best mix of technology and teaching methods
  • The Effective Principal Program, which focuses on the development of leadership and management skills

  • “Principreneur” Accelerator Program, which uses a startup mindset to reconceptualize and innovate new approaches to becoming a more effective school leader

The planning grant will fund an assessment of specific needs and market gaps; enable Santa Clara University to initiate new partnerships with Silicon Valley schools, districts, and organizations; and provide coaching for education leaders.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

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