Founded by the Jesuits in 1996, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School is a neighborhood school with the mission of offering the best college preparatory education available to the youth of the Southwest side of Chicago, for whom other private schools are not a financial option.
Cristo Rey is able to offer this type of education because of its most innovative component: the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP). Cristo Rey pioneered the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) model for inner-city education that has inspired a national network of over 30 schools serving low-income communities across the country. All students work five days a month in entry-level jobs in Chicago firms to fund nearly 70% of the cost of their education. More than 100 corporations and organizations such as Aon, Chase, CNA, Deloitte, Freeborn & Peters, Insurance Auto Auctions, Madison Dearborn Partners, Loyola University Medical Center, and Mayer Brown LLP, participate in the CWSP. While initially serving as simply a financial proposition to pay the operational costs of the school, the CWSP has evolved into a progressive means of providing students with valuable work experience, while simultaneously empowering them to take an active part in financing a major portion of their education.
Now in its twentieth year, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School remains committed to serving families with limited financial means, who seek out a Jesuit, Catholic and college preparatory education for their children. The school opened its doors with only 70 students and now has grown to over 550.
During its short existence, Cristo Rey has raised more than $30 million to build two new classroom buildings, a cafeteria, gymnasium, and state of the art library/media center. The former St. Stephen’s Elementary School was renovated in 2010 to house the counseling center, additional classrooms and offices, and the former St. Stephen’s Catholic Church was transformed into the Chapel of the Sacred Heart.
In 2012, through a public/private partnership, Cristo Rey led the way in the creation of Pilsen Community Field at Harrison Park. Cristo Rey athletic teams now have a "home field" for soccer and softball, and students and the entire Pilsen community have access to an all-weather turf field for softball, Little League, soccer, lacrosse and other sports.
Cristo Rey continues to receive national recognition as a ground breaking model for urban education. In response to the success of Cristo Rey, the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested close to $30 million toward replicating this educational model around the United States. Currently, there are 30 high schools throughout the country that are associated through the Cristo Rey Network and operate using the educational model named for the first Cristo Rey School in Chicago.
Cristo Rey now boasts that every one of its graduating seniors is accepted to at least one college.