Full Employment: We Got This

Full Employment for Cristo Rey Students: We Got This!
Posted on 09/04/2015
Aviaun Martin Work-Study at Polsinelli

Memories of 2007 keep jobs, wages and the economy top of the mind for most Americans. During what came to be known as the “Great Recession,” unemployment for all ages and occupations of workers soared, and Americans worried.

From inception, the United States has offered a unique proposition to its citizens: the promise of economic opportunity and social mobility. The history of our country documents countless examples of how the starting point in life did not determine how high the climb.

In 2000, 45 percent of U.S. teens – aged 16-19 – had jobs. By 2011, that employment rate had dropped to 26 percent. In this lost decade for youth employment, millions of teens missed invaluable work experience. Economists estimate that pre-recession employment rates for this age group would have provided an additional $7.8 billion in employment taxes for the federal government.

The 388 students of Cristo Rey Kansas City are beating these odds. Boasting full employment, staff report that every student is building a four-year resume and 100 percent are employed through the school’s Corporate Work Study Program. Students at Cristo Rey take four years of college prep courses and work one day each week at one of over 100 corporate partner locations. Work-study partner fees underwrite approximately half of the cost of each student’s private school tuition.

By working in professional settings – banks, hospitals, insurance agencies and other professional services – students not only contribute financially to the cost of their education but gain exposure to professional role models in the workplace. The program helps them make connections from classrooms to the world of work.

“Every day, we see how this program transforms our students,” said Director of Corporate Work Study Ted Koppen
. “By working side-by-side with college-educated professionals, our students start to understand the direct correlation between staying in school, getting a degree and making a better life for themselves.”

Cristo Rey’s
Corporate Work Study Program acts as an employee leasing agent and handles all W-4, I-9, Workers’ Compensation, FICA and other employer mandates. Students work in job-sharing teams of four and cover a standard business week, Monday through Friday, during a 10-month school year. The academic schedule is structured so that students are available to work without missing class.

About Cristo Rey Kansas City
Cristo Rey Kansas City is part of the network of 30 Cristo Rey High Schools across the United States. The schools aim to break the cycle of poverty through education and work study experience. Cristo Rey provides a Catholic college prep education enhanced by a corporate work study program. Sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, the school serves a culturally diverse student body with demonstrated economic need. Founded in 2006, Cristo Rey Kansas City reports that 100 percent of its graduates have been accepted to college or university.
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