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Brooke Rayford
CHICAGO (March 6, 2023) - Today, the Cristo Rey Network (CRN) announced a lead, $5 million matching gift from an anonymous foundation toward funding the organization’s 2026 Strategic Plan. The investment will fuel initiatives that build upon the impact achieved from Cristo Rey’s Putting Education to Work initiative (2019-2023) and provide seed funding to launch new, high-impact programming for key priorities between 2023-2026 including:

Catholic Education: Across all program areas, we will deepen students’ formation to become servant leaders and continue to fortify our mission, guided by the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

Academic Excellence: We will improve student achievement and college readiness through network-wide curriculum and instruction initiatives (math and literacy), as well as implementation of targeted academic support programs.

Corporate Work Study: We will enhance the impact of professional work for students, expand national corporate partnerships, and maximize the program’s reliability as a revenue source for schools.

College Success: We will ensure that all students are provided the support and resources to identify, apply to, enroll, persist, and graduate from a best-fit, four-year college or university.

Mission Vitality: Growth, Engagement, Sustainability: We will increase the number of Cristo Rey schools and students, strengthen alumni engagement, and ensure schools are equipped to sustain an operational model aligned with student needs.

Attraction and Retention of Talent: We will initiate a new national effort to support schools to recruit, develop, and retain mission-aligned professionals who lead vibrant learning communities.

With admiration for and in recognition of the Cristo Rey Network’s leadership and data-driven results that demonstrate financially sound and academically challenging learning communities, the anonymous foundation has granted the $5 million matching gift in honor of President and CEO Elizabeth Goettl, who will retire June 30, 2023.

“Elizabeth has dedicated 14 years of tireless service to our transformational mission,” said CRN Board Chair John E. O’Shea. “Her leadership of and vision for our Network will have a lasting impact on the futures of our students and their families, our country’s workplaces, and our Catholic learning communities.”

Under Elizabeth’s leadership, the organization exceeded the goal of its first national fundraising campaign; sustained established school viability during the pandemic while developing new schools to open; achieved a network-wide all-time high for four-year student retention; increased college completion; and built systematic infrastructure and resources to support schools’ leadership efforts.

To ensure the continued progress of these organizational achievements, the 2026 Strategic Plan requires $16+ million in philanthropic resources to fund programming from July 1, 2023 - June 30, 2026. 

“The intention of the $5 million matching gift is to motivate increased support from the CRN’s established donor community and to engage new donors,” remarked O’Shea. “I’m pleased to share that gift commitments from our Board of Directors have already garnered $1.38 million towards the match.”

Tribute gifts in honor of Elizabeth’s leadership, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the anonymous foundation, have been received by:

  • BJ & Bebe Cassin
  • Healey Family Foundation
  • The Howley Foundation
  • Janet and Tom O’Connor
  • O’Shea Family Foundation
  • Perry Family Charitable Foundation
  • Joliet Franciscan Sisters / S. Jeanne Bessette, OSF, Ed.D.
“Our vision for the future remains bold - to continue delivering on the promise of our mission of
a college-prep education to our students and their families,” O’Shea continued. “We look forward to embarking on the 2026 Strategic Plan in partnership with our growing philanthropic community led by the anonymous foundation that has continued their multi-year investment in our Network.”

To learn more, contact Chief Advancement Officer Brenda Morris at or 312-784-7208.

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