Business Journal: Cristo Rey Gives Students Head Start

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Twenty-five companies have signed on as partners with the new Cristo Rey High School, opening this September with 100 freshman. It’s a Roman Catholic, college-preparatory high school for low-income kids … whose parents can’t afford a private school education. 

The Jesuits developed the unique Cristo Rey model in Chicago, and it’s already in 11 cities. Area businesses agree to pay $25,000 a year – enough to cover tuition – and in return, a different student shows up each day of the week to work there at an entry-level job. It’s a day off campus … but a day in the real world, so students can learn what working and careers are all about. 

The students are screened, trained, and are even given tips on how to dress for success. It’s all part of the Cristo Rey model, which now has 2,000 low-income students, often immigrants, in school nationwide. Depending on their interest, the young students may be receptionists, work in records, or be patient escorts to start getting the feel of a work environment that interests them. 

Last September the Chicago-based Cristo Rey network approved the Sacramento site, at the former St. Peter’s School in South Sacramento. When it opens at least 25 students won’t be wondering about where they’ll get a job. Organizers are hoping more companies will participate.