The Cristo Rey Network® is the only network of high schools in the country that integrate four years of rigorous college preparatory academics with four years of professional work experience through the Corporate Work Study Program. Comprised of 37 Catholic, college- and career-preparatory schools that today serve 12,000 students across 24 states and collectively claim 18,000 graduates, the Cristo Rey Network delivers a powerful and innovative approach to inner-city education that equips students from families of limited economic means with the knowledge, character, and skills to transform their lives.
When Cristo Rey Jesuit High School opened under the leadership of John P. Foley, S.J. in 1996, it introduced a highly innovative integration of academic and professional experience to Catholic secondary education in the United States. The model had immediate appeal, first to Catholic educators across the country and soon after to prominent philanthropists committed to educational reform.
The Cristo Rey Network was formed in 2000. BJ and Bebe Cassin committed $12 million from the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation to support the replication of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (Chicago) in other U.S. cities. With the help of the Cristo Rey Network and the Christian Brothers, De La Salle North Catholic opened its doors in 2001 and became the second school within the new Network. In 2003, the Network was formally organized as a 501(c)(3) organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed $9.9 million to continue replication of new schools.
Through the talent and commitment of local communities and generous and enthusiastic support from philanthropic investors, the Cristo Rey Network has grown over the last 20 years from a single school in south Chicago to a national network of 37 schools. During a period when traditional Catholic schools were shuttering their doors at an alarming rate, the Cristo Rey Network has grown into the largest network of high schools in the country that exclusively serves low-income students.