The first “Nativity School” was founded at the Mission of the Nativity in Lower Manhattan in 1971 to serve Latino boys from low-income families who were having difficulty succeeding in local high schools. Since then, over 60 autonomous Nativity Schools have opened to pursue similar missions throughout the continental United States. Nativity schools are sponsored by a variety of religious groups, both Catholic and non-Catholic. Nativity Schools continue to open around the country. 


In 1998, parishioners from St. Andrew approached the Oregon Province of the Jesuits and asked them to consider sponsoring a Nativity School in the former St. Andrew parish school. After two years of study, a decision was made to open the school and the support of the Archbishop of Portland and the Superior General of the Jesuits was sought and secured. The school welcomed its first class of 20 students in 2001. The school now serves 79 students and has over 300 graduates.

St. Andrew Nativity School is Oregon's only tuition free, private middle school for low income students. Located in NE Portland, just off 9th and Alberta, Nativity School draws students of all faiths from around the Portland area. The Jesuit School provides a challenging education and values centric curriculum. Small class sizes allow for individualized attention to raise students' learning by as much as five grade levels in three years. 96% of Nativity School students go on to graduate from high school and 80% go on to attend college.

St. Andrew Nativity school in 1908 when it was an elementary school. It was run by nuns that lived on the top floor of the school, before that part of the school was destroyed in a fire.

St. Andrew Nativity school in 1908 when it was an elementary school. It was run by nuns that lived on the top floor of the school, before that part of the school was destroyed in a fire.

Our School

Our Model and the Results:

St. Andrew Nativity School opened its doors in 2001 to ten girls and ten boys. Since then, 276 students have graduated the eighth grade, most whom have gone on to private, college-preparatory high schools on scholarship.

Of the 81 students are currently enrolled at Nativity School:

  • 26% are African-American, 14% African-Immigrant, 59% Latino, 1% Asian

  • 100% are from low-income families as measured by free or reduced lunch

  • 38% are from single parent families

  • 40% identify as Catholic

At Nativity School, our goal is to close the achievement gap and break the cycle of poverty through education. We exclusively educate underserved children, grades 6-8, using a model that:

  • Levels the playing-field for low-income students. The majority of our students enter the sixth grade two to three grade levels behind in core subject areas: reading, writing and math. In the three years that they are at our school, on average, our students gain five grade levels.

  • Reduces high school dropout rates. Of our graduates: 97% are accepted to private college preparatory high schools; 92% earn diplomas in four years; and 80% go on to college.

  • Breaks the cycle of generational poverty through education. June of 2012 became a milestone for Nativity School as students from our first class of 20 children crossed the stage to become college graduates.

  • Emphasizes stability, respect for self and others, strength of character and personal responsibility. Nativity students learn appropriate problem-solving skills, empathy and how to self-advocate in a courteous manner.

The success of our model is a result of:

  • A 48-hour school week which offers a rigorous, standards-based curriculum.

  • A 14:1 student-teacher ratio which ensures that students receive individualized instruction.

  • An extended school day (mandatory study hall and a double period of Language Arts), Summer School, Counseling, Graduate Support, Athletics, and meal programs.

  • Year-round service learning to instill the importance of giving back to the community.

  • Enrichment activities such as a career-speaker series, arts and cultural events, outdoor school and field trips.

Community Support and Partnerships:

Now in our seventeenth year, Nativity School has: more than 20 members on our Board of Trustees and over 100 volunteers. Nativity School partners with local college preparatory high schools as well as agencies such as Minds Matter, Friends of the Children and the Blanchet House in order to assist our students and graduates in the process of entering high school and college, earning diplomas and degrees, and finding service learning, internship and career opportunities.

The Cost:

Our annual budget is 1.9 million. The annual cost to educate a student at Nativity School is $15,000 which includes after school programming and summer school. Our annual operating budget is funded entirely by individual, corporate and foundation grants and donations.