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Mission & History

Gesu School is an independent Catholic School, Pre-K to 8th grade, in the Jesuit and IHM traditions. Both of these religious orders believe in providing academic, spiritual, and social development to nurture our students’ character and maximize their potential.

Mission Statement

​​​​Inspired by the Jesuit and IHM traditions of social justice, faith, creative hope, and love, Gesu School helps students to transcend all forms of poverty by providing a comprehensive, innovative education. We empower our students to develop their strengths, overcome challenges, and become positive, engaged members of the community and the world.


Our Values

Our Gesu Community

Gesu is a caring community where all children are welcome and nurtured to learn and grow in academics and character. Here is a snapshot of our children and families:*

  • 400 children grades Pre-K through 8 attend Gesu School.
  • Approximately one out of five of our Gesu families has incomes below the Federal Poverty Level.
  • Approximately 54% of Gesu families has an annual income of less than $35,000.
  • Gesu School qualifies 100% for free/reduced breakfast and lunch programs.
  •  More than 50% of students come from single-parent households.

*Based on 2023 - 2024 registration/ enrollment data (self-reported)

Our children and families are amazingly resilient in the face of the daily challenges and obstacles they encounter. A Gesu education often opens countless doors and gives our students the tools for a bright, successful future.



The Gesu parish had been a cornerstone of the Philadelphia community since the late 1800s. At its peak, the Church of the Gesu was home to 20,000 parishioners in North Philadelphia. In the 1960s – 1980s, the city experienced significant financial hardship and urban deterioration. By the late 1980s, the Gesu parish was struggling to support itself and was forced to close its doors in 1993.

At the time of the parish closing, the Archdiocese requested that the Jesuits and the IHM sisters keep Gesu School open, not as a parish-supported institution, but as an independent school. Gesu School remained, as a matter of faith and social justice, to provide our mostly non-Catholic children from Philadelphia with the highest quality education. Gesu became Philadelphia’s first Catholic school of its kind, blazing the way for the Catholic mission schools that would follow 20 years later.

Thanks to the efforts and contributions of dedicated leaders, educators, volunteers, and supporters, Gesu School has not only survived, but continues to thrive as a national model for urban education.

In 2023-24, Gesu celebrates our 30th anniversary as an independent Catholic school in tribute to our successful past and anticipation of our promising future.



Throughout the 2023-24 school year, Gesu School celebrates our 30th anniversary as an independent Catholic school and our 150th anniversary educating children in North Philadelphia. Click here to view our 30th anniversary history book!

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