DePaul University: Education to Break the Generational Cycle of Poverty
Since our founding, the Vincentian family has used education to open doors of access to marginalized communities. Although we often tell the stories of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac as social workers, we know that they were also educators. Sr. Louise Sullivan, D.C. writes that Vincent and Louise were “teachers and as such were keenly aware of the vital place of education in a holistic approach to service of the poor.” 
Sullivan writes that education was a central piece of Louise’s ministry. She established schools for young girls who lived in poor, rural communities and played a substantial role in overcoming illiteracy among women in France. These forms of educational outreach, Sullivan notes, “were not isolated but rather a natural outgrowth of a broader service of the poor from which they cannot be dissociated.” 
Vincent and Louise’s value in education undoubtedly informed the founding of DePaul University. During the late nineteenth century, many colleges and universities in Chicago did not serve immigrant communities. In 1898, the Vincentian priests, also known as the Congregation of the Mission, responded to this need by opening St. Vincent’s College, which served immigrants and their children. The Vincentians saw education as a way to disrupt the cycle of generational poverty.
Thirteen years after its founding, DePaul became one of the first Catholic universities in the country to admit women. In the century that followed, DePaul heard and responded to the needs of Jewish applicants, communities of color, low-income working communities, and first-generation students. Providing opportunities for higher education to those who are excluded is one way we choose to live out our Catholic heritage.
DePaul remains committed to its founding mission, to provide a quality education to those who have been marginalized and excluded from higher learning. We believe that education not only has the power to transform minds, but that it also equips individuals with the tools to transform their communities.
Read the article that Terry Vaughn III wrote to accompany this interview:
 Sullivan, Louise D.C. (1995) “The Core Values of Vincentian Education,” Vincentian Heritage Journal: Vol. 16 : Iss. 2 , Article 3. https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol16/iss2/3