The Shepherds Program at Notre Dame

For over 20 years, Notre Dame has partnered with Shepherds to help close the education opportunity gap in New Haven. Our joint efforts have provided the opportunity for students to reach their academic potential at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame identifies young men who are good candidates for the Shepherds program after students apply and are accepted to Notre Dame. Shepherds provides tuition assistance, academic and life skills programs, and the support of a mentor for the duration of their high school education. The partnership of Notre Dame with Shepherds is critical to our mission: To inspire academic excellence, nurture personal growth and foster integrity and compassion in young men of diverse talents, backgrounds, and beliefs through our Catholic, Holy Cross tradition.

Who Shepherds Serves: 

  • Shepherds students are motivated young men from culturally diverse families whose annual income is 100% below the federally established poverty level
  • Shepherds students have a history of performing below grade level prior to high school but have demonstrated potential

Impact Areas: 

  • Only 75% of New Haven public high school freshman boys will stay in school and graduate. (source: State of CT Dept of Education, Edsight data, classes 2016 to 2020)
  • Potential is distributed equally, but opportunity is not
  • COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted the communities and students that we serve

Better Together - Our Combined Impact:

  • Financial support for tuition to attend Notre Dame High School
  • 1-1 mentorship and a dedicated community of support
  • Comprehensive program of academic and life skills


  • For the past 5 years, 95% of Shepherds freshman high school students stayed in school and graduated
  • 100% of Shepherds students graduate with college acceptances and significant financial aid and merit scholarships
  • Studies show that students who are mentored have better school attendance, a better chance of going on to higher education, better attitudes toward school, and a reduction in depressive symptoms. (The Role of Risk, 2013)

To learn more about the Shepherds program or to learn more about becoming a mentor at Notre Dame, contact Martie Giammatteo at or visit