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Cristo Rey Literacy Initiative
Brooke Rayford


CHICAGO (May 26, 2022) - Today, the Cristo Rey Network announced the launch of a network-wide literacy initiative to accelerate student achievement in English Language Arts (ELA). Propelled by a lead investment of $2 million from The Howley Foundation, Accelerating Literacy Across the Curriculum will engage ThinkCERCA, a nationally recognized service provider, to implement and scale proven programming in Cristo Rey schools over the next six years.  

“CRN schools have worked to elevate classroom rigor in college-ready reading and writing skills, and ThinkCERCA’s evidence-based flexible framework will support teachers and students in further strengthening these essential skills,” shared Cristo Rey Network President and CEO Elizabeth Goettl. “Because of The Howley Foundation’s profound investment, our literacy initiative will provide exceptional professional development and coaching to teachers to prepare students for success in college courses.”

Commencing in July 2022, Accelerating Literacy Across the Curriculum will engage an inaugural cohort of five schools to begin a multi-year training commitment with ThinkCERCA. Schools include:

Atlanta: Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School
Birmingham: Holy Family Cristo Rey High School
Brooklyn: Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School
Houston: Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston
Richmond: Cristo Rey Richmond High School

Each school embarking on the initiative was carefully selected upon demonstrating the following:

  • Evidence of strong and sustained President and Principal leadership with an ALL-IN mindset towards participation and committed engagement
  • Full engagement of the entire ELA teacher team
  • A commitment of one school leader who will join all professional development sessions and progress-monitor the initiative at the school site

With high levels of support from the national office Leading and Learning Team (LLT) and ThinkCERCA, participating Cristo Rey schools will implement programmatic supports and instructional materials focusing on argumentative writing and reading of an informational text to accelerate student achievement, as measured by growth on three annual ThinkCERCA assessments and PSAT/SAT scores. 

“Virtual and on-site professional learning provided by ThinkCERCA will build upon and enhance established collaboration and professional practice across the Cristo Rey Network,” remarked Dr. Mary Kearney, Chief Academic Officer of the Cristo Rey Network. “We’re eager to begin this critical priority in partnership with The Howley Foundation for the benefit of our current and future students.”


About the Cristo Rey Network: 
The Cristo Rey Network of 38 high schools delivers a career-focused, college preparatory education in the Catholic tradition for students with limited economic resources, uniquely integrating rigorous academic curricula with four years of professional work experience and support to and through college. Cristo Rey partners with educators, businesses and communities to enable students to fulfill their aspirations for a lifetime of success: students are more than twice as likely to complete a bachelor's degree by age 24, compared to the total U.S. population from the lowest income quartile. Learn more.