Cristo Rey Schools: Enabling Poor Minority Students to Attend College, Overcome Poverty

While many Catholic schools closed, consolidated, or suffered financial hardship over the last few decades, Cristo Rey Schools succeeded. The success of Cristo Rey Schools is based on their business model. The Cristo Rey schools are Catholic high schools located only in urban areas with high concentrations of economically disadvantaged minority students. Although Cristo Rey schools provide a Catholic college preparatory education for their students, students of every faith are welcome to attend Cristo Rey schools. Cristo Rey schools prepare all of their students to gain admission to college, attend college, and graduate college ready for whatever they might undertake.

The unique part of the business model is the requirement for every student to perform at a job obtained through the school’s work-study program. Students are grouped in teams of five; with each team member performing the team’s job one day per week. Students earn valuable work experience that provides a foundation for future full time employment while the school limits tuition to $2,000 annually with the average family paying about $1,350. Each school integrates the work-study program with its on-the-job work experience with classroom academics and extracurricular activities. This combination provides students with the skills with which to attend and graduate college, and succeed in their life pursuits. All Cristo Rey graduates are accepted to attend college, with many earning their first choice. Moreover, Cristo Rey schools help students overcome poverty and achieve the kind of lives unavailable to many other young people trapped in the poverty life cycle.

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