The 'Why' Behind Cristo Rey

Opening Doors To College Prep for Students Willing To Work
Posted on 08/11/2019
The Grad at Graduation

More than 20 years ago, Father John Foley was looking for a solution to the lack of educational opportunities available to low-income families in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods of Chicago. As Jesuit familiar with prep education, Father Foley knew that there was a significant barrier – “How can we provide a private, college-prep education for low-income students from families unable to afford tuition payments?”

Foley’s solution came in the form of a question, “What if every student has a job?”

Modeled after this successful Chicago experiment, the Cristo Rey Network now encompasses 37 schools and serve more than 12,000 high school students across the country. The schools integrate four years of rigorous college preparatory academics with four years of professional work experience that enable each student to earn approximately half of the cost of his or her education. The gap that exists for each student is funded with support from the community.

Located in Midtown, Cristo Rey Kansas City opened in 2006 and is sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, a religious community with more than 150 years’ experience in education. Students commit to a longer school day and year, tackle ambitious coursework, and miss no academic time while at work-study assignments.

More than 120 area businesses partner with the school to create this opportunity for students. Teams of students composed from each grade level job share and perform the duties of a full-time entry-level position.

With 10 years of graduates, Cristo Rey Kansas City is proud to report that 100% of its graduates have been admitted to college, and 60% of graduates have earned degrees or remain in college.
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