Lasting Empowerment

We provide funding for nonprofit organizations and projects that provide people with opportunity, often through education, so they can permanently move out of poverty or otherwise improve their lives. We partner with organizations whose work aligns with our investment priorities, and whose leadership has proven capacity to effectively steward funds and achieve results. While the majority of our investments are sourced through trusted advisors and personal contacts, we do accept unsolicited proposals. We prioritize proposals that are innovative, replicable and supported by research.


Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities

The Wilson Sheehan Foundation has endowed the University of Notre Dame's Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO), a University initiative that employs rigorous scientific research to evaluate and help structure programs seeking to reduce poverty in the United States. 

Located in the University's Department of Economics, LEO aims to identify the innovative, effective and scalable programs that help people move out of poverty. LEO's research is conducted by faculty from the University of Notre Dame as well as scholars from across the country with expertise in designing and evaluating the impact of domestic anti-poverty programs. LEO fits well with our commitment to utilize our own resources most efficiently and our mission to empower families to elevate their quality of life by fostering economic self-sufficiency that lasts a lifetime. Investing in program research supports more transparent evidence-based decisions in the allocation of scarce financial resources and as a result, the country's poor will be served by more effective services. 

LEO is partnering with Catholic Charities USA, the largest private provider of services to the poor in the country. Through this network, along with collaborating with other service providers and sharing results with policymakers, LEO can ensure that effective programs can be scaled up to have broad, national impact. 

Among the current areas of focus are early childhood development, community college persistence, job readiness, juvenile justice diversion, and homelessness prevention. As the lab grows, the scope of the projects and their corresponding policy focus areas will expand as well. 

Stay the Course is one of the new and promising programs that has developed from LEO's partnership with Catholic Charities Fort Worth. This program is designed to help low-income community college students progress towards graduation. Click on the video to learn more about Stay the Course. 

To learn more about LEO, please visit