Jay Caponigro is the director of community engagement in the Office of Public Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. In this position, Caponigro works with the associate vice president in the development, execution and measurement of the institution’s efforts to strengthen its relationship with the local community. In his portfolio, Caponigro oversees the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC) and the university’s Teachers As Scholars program, and collaborates with colleagues to support various university partnerships with area schools, non-profits, and government partners. He is an Affiliate of the ND Institute for Educational Initiatives, an instructor in the Moreau First Year Studies program, and serves on the Steering Committee of the university’s Community Engagement Coordinating Council.
Caponigro holds a Masters in Divinity degree from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Government and International Studies from Notre Dame. He received a Certificate of Executive Management from the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame and a Certificate in Community Engagement from Virginia Tech. With experience as a faith-based community organizer early in his career, Caponigro was the founding director of the RCLC, a twenty-year-old educational partnership between the university and South Bend’s Northeast Neighborhood.
The RCLC’s role in community-based learning, including the Take Ten program, was an important factor in Notre Dame’s recognition as both a 2010 and a 2020 Engaged Institution under the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. Carnegie's rigorous review recognizes “the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities…for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”
The commitment of the RCLC to improve educational opportunities for diverse, low income children and families has given rise to a variety of other programs. In addition to after-school tutoring, under Caponigro’s leadership the Center was awarded federal, state and local grants to foster award-winning programs such as the Robinson Shakespeare Company, a competitive Lego Robotics team, and a high school business development and entrepreneurship program. An estimated 500 Notre Dame students engage in RCLC programming each year; of these, over100 students work weekly in after-school tutoring.
Mr. Caponigro was elected Trustee of the 1st District of the South Bend Community School Corporation in 2010, and recently completed two four-year terms. He also serves on the Board of Directors for OakLawn Community Mental Health Center, and the South Bend Mayor’s Commission for Violence Reduction. He has published and presented with colleagues on the engagement work of the RCLC; taught various courses related to Catholic Social Tradition at Notre Dame and Holy Cross College; and was honored with the 2014 Champion for Education Award from the Institute for Educational Initiatives, University of Notre Dame.
Jay is a resident of South Bend, Indiana, where he lives with his wife Lyn, and children. Jay and his family are members of St. Joseph’s Parish.