Congratulations to Holy Family School!

October 9, 2023

Holy Family Catholic School logo

Holy Family Catholic School in Des Moines proudly announced it was named a quarterfinalist for the 2023 Yass Prize.

The prestigious $1 million Yass Prize is considered the "Pulitzer of Education Innovation." This top award, powered by the Center for Education Reform in partnership with Forbes, is a growing effort to find, reward, celebrate and expand best-in-class education organizations from every sector.

In addition to being named a quarterfinalist for the Yass Prize, the school received a $150,000 STOP Award for Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless education.

The Yass Prize and STOP Award is a rapidly growing effort to find, reward, celebrate and expand best-in-class education organizations from every state and create unprecedented  partnerships that accelerate impact. In 2022, the Yass Prize organization awarded $20 million.

Holy Family is among 64 awardees across 31 states evaluated in an intensive, three-tier process. The 2023 awardees include organizations serving special populations, including incarcerated and many marginalized student groups, and accelerated workforce and higher education solutions tied to the secondary level. This year's Yass Prize quarterfinalists represent a microcosm of 21st-century, personalized approaches that better educate students.

"These funds will help us to continue to provide opportunities and experiences that our students would not be able to receive otherwise," said school administrator Paulette Theisen. "We are grateful to be selected as a STOP Award recipient."

Holy Family is committed to providing an exceptional learning environment that celebrates the diversity of its students. With a mission to nurture families and provide for students' quality education rooted in the Gospel of Jesus and the traditions and practices of the Catholic Church, Holy Family has helped its students reach their highest potential for more than 40 years. This mission and a deep commitment to multiculturalism have helped the school draw students across the Des Moines metro.

The school boasts a student body with a rich diversity not seen in most Iowa schools. In fact, 97 percent of students represent diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, with 15 different languages spoken. Thirty-eight percent of students qualify for English Language instruction. Yet despite potential language barriers, students at Holy Family thrive.

As the only year-round school in the Diocese of Des Moines, Holy Family maximizes student learning with 15 additional school days and breaks throughout the year are timed to help reduce learning loss. In school year 2020-2021, students demonstrated high proficiency in core subjects despite the challenges of COVID-19. Eighty-one percent of Holy Family students demonstrated proficiency in science, 74 percent demonstrated proficiency in mathematics, and 82 percent demonstrated proficiency in language arts based on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP). These outcomes are significant considering the impact of COVID-19 on student learning and the fact that this was the first time students took this particular assessment.

For over 25 years, Jeanine and Jeff Yass have dedicated their time, intellect and resources to creating excellent schools for parents to make meaningful choices. But when the COVID crisis revealed and magnified the vast inequities that surround a majority of our students, they pivoted to a more impactful way to spend their resources to speed up the pace of improving student lives. For more information, visit

The Diocese of Des Moines includes 16 schools in central and southwest Iowa. Catholic schools in the Des Moines Diocese build Christ-centered, collaborative, inclusive partnerships with parents, students, and parishes to provide students with innovative academic excellence and inspirational faith formation. To learn more about Catholic schools in the Diocese of Des Moines, visit our website or email us.