New Orleans, Louisiana, St. Mary's Academy Marching Unit

NOLA’s Highly Recognized St. Mary’s Academy Seeks Donations To Operate Successfully

The nationally recognized academy, which has seen graduating classes with a 100% college acceptance rate, seeks an endowment of $1 billion.

St. Mary’s Academy, a Catholic institution dedicated to educating young Black women in New Orleans, has been making dreams a reality for decades. However, despite its remarkable achievements, the school faces a critical need for financial stability to sustain its excellence.

The academy, which has seen its graduating classes achieve a remarkable 100% college acceptance rate for the past two years, is desperately seeking donations, with an ambitious goal of reaching a $1 billion endowment, as reported by “We’re trying to operate a well-oiled machine without the oil,” lamented President and Interim Principal Pamela Rogers, who has been with St. Mary’s for 19 years. “People who work here work because it’s a calling. They’re not compensated for their value.”

The school was founded in 1867 by Mother Henriette DeLille’s Sisters of the Holy Family, an order of African American nuns in New Orleans. Upon assuming the school’s leadership, Rogers revealed that the sisters lacked a substantial endowment.

During an episode of 60 Minutes, Rogers shared how St. Mary’s Academy narrowly escaped complete closure after Hurricane Katrina’s devastating impact in 2005. The school’s original site was submerged under seven feet of water, necessitating the complete demolition of the building.

The episode also delved into the academy’s profound history. DeLille, a Creole nun born in 1812 to a White Frenchman father and a mother who was a free person of color; she was the great-granddaughter of a West African slave, and defied anti-literacy laws to educate slaves and free people of color, inspired by her Catholic faith and desire to help others. “We continue to move forward with her vision,” Rogers affirmed, echoing the school’s founding principles. “We teach young women to give service, to empower themselves, [and] to be in the community. We teach them to grow spiritually, intellectually…to be good people and give to one another.”

The “60 Minutes” episode has garnered major attention for the school, including from civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who stated, “WOW,” expressing excitement about its achievements on X. As previously covered by BLACK ENTERPRISE, St. Mary’s students Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson made mathematical history during their senior year in 2022 by independently proving the 2,000-year-old Pythagorean Theorem using trigonometry.

The two mathematicians aren’t the only known scholars to formerly walk the halls of the academy. noted that St. Mary’s boasts an illustrious list of alumni, including U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Dana Douglas and state Rep. Candace Newell (both Class of 1993); Criminal Court Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier (Class of 1987); and former Interim NOPD Chief Michelle Woodfork (Class of 1988), among others.

While enrollment hit around 800 in the 1980s when the institution had grades 7-12, today’s enrollment stands at 615 with K-12 classes. The academy urgently needs donations to sustain its mission and expand resources for its students. To donate, visit the St. Mary’s Academy website.