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Igniting a Mission

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School was founded by the Midwest Jesuits in 1996 to serve the immigrant Latino community of Pilsen and Little Village on the near Southwest side of Chicago. Our school pioneered the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) model for inner-city education that has inspired a national network of 38 schools serving low-income communities across the country.

Now in its 26th school 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. Serving 552 students from 29 zip codes across Chicago’s Southwest Side, Cristo Rey creates unique opportunities for a community that still experiences great need.

To make Cristo Rey affordable and sustainable, founding members conceptualized the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) model for inner-city education. The CWSP enables all of our students to earn approximately 70% of their annual tuition by working one day a week at an entry-level position for a corporation or nonprofit agency across the Chicago area. By collaborating with more than 140 Chicago businesses, this program allows students to develop high-level social and professional skills, plus four years of job experience, before entering college.

Our 25 years of results speak for themselves: we cultivate college-educated, work-experienced, biliterate, and bicultural men and women for others. What began as an experimental project by the Jesuits to expand ministry for Chicago’s Hispanic population has become one of the most successful models of educational innovation in our country. Our school gives students from low-income, immigrant families the educational, spiritual, and professional opportunities they need to break the cycle of poverty, while honoring and building upon the heritage of their families.

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 37 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.