Innovative Model

From freshman year, Cristo Rey schools establish a culture of high expectations by blending rigorous academic preparation, significant professional work experience through the Corporate Work Study Program, Catholic educational values, and support for students to and through college. This unique educational model has powerful formational impact on students—demystifying the world outside their neighborhoods, developing valuable workplace readiness skills, introducing them to inspirational role models and supportive mentors, and building the competence, confidence, and aspiration so important to college and career success.


On average, Cristo Rey students arrive in ninth grade two grade levels behind academically because, through no fault of their own, they have not had the benefit of access to quality instruction in grades K-8. To ensure Cristo Rey students graduate from high school prepared for college, our schools must routinely target six years of learning gains during four years of high school. Cristo Rey schools utilize a proprietary, standards based, college preparatory curriculum—aligned to the Common Core State Standards, the ACT College and Career Readiness Standards, and the SAT—that emphasizes lifelong learning behaviors and critical thinking skills to ensure appropriate rigor and empower student success.


4 units of English Language Arts
4 units of Mathematics
4 units of Science
3 units of Social Studies
3 units of World Languages
4 units of Religious Studies
2 additional units of other academic disciplines

Schools offer Advanced Placement, dual-enrollment, and honors courses
Schools named "America's Most Challenging High Schools" by the Washington Post
Average ACT Growth for the Class of 2016

To propel the highest quality teaching, learning, and academic leadership, the Cristo Rey Network Teaching and Learning Team elevates the academic quality in our schools by developing and engaging school educators and instructional leaders in a series of interrelated initiatives.

Teacher Effectiveness

The Teaching and Learning Team facilitates professional development opportunities that demonstrably focus on high-impact, research-based instructional strategies that explicitly increase Cristo Rey students’ ability to achieve college readiness. Site visits made to every school ensure accountability, effective implementation of the network-wide curriculum, and provide personalized support necessary to school teams.

Principal Leadership

The Teaching and Learning Team delivers targeted professional development and coaching framework through meetings that enable principals to lead effective teaching in the classroom and drive student learning school-wide. School principals convene annually January and in April to report on successes and challenges, to self-assess their progress relative to their curriculum and teacher effectiveness implementation plans, and to refine their plans as necessary.

Student Achievement

The Teaching and Learning Team leads ongoing refinement of the proprietary network-wide curriculum and assessments, aligned to the Common Core State Standards, ACT College Ready Standards, and the College Board, to ensure appropriate rigor and promote student engagement, retention, and success.

Catholic Values

Cristo Rey schools are explicitly Catholic in mission and value and reflect the charism of the 36 Religious Sponsors and Endorsers of their schools. In addition to teaching a standards-based religious studies curriculum, students are engaged in a ministry program that supports them in exploring religion, faith, and spirituality. Our schools welcome youth of all faiths and no faiths; 40% of our students in the Network are not Catholic.

“Cristo Rey gives students an opportunity they might never have. It continues our legacy from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton of daring to risk a caring response."

- Sister Barbara Hagedorn, SC
Former President of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

Corporate Work Study Program

"Giving these students a 'hand-up' showcases our company values and commitment to the development of our most important asset - our people."

- Philip M. Coughlin
President, Global Geographies and Operations Expeditors International

Through the Network’s innovative Corporate Work Study Program, Cristo Rey schools are a national leader in building a pipeline of diverse, 21st century talent and preparing underserved youth for the demands of the growing knowledge-based economy. A team of four students shares one entry-level job at a professional organization, allowing students to earn the majority of their high school tuition while gaining real-world work experience.

$62 million
Earned by students for their own education
Corporate Partners employ a team of Cristo Rey students
Students meet or exceed expectations in the workplace

Corporate Partners

Assuming the role of an employee leasing agency, Cristo Rey schools have streamlined the process for employing students. Students are not on the payroll of the employing organization; they are instead employees of the school’s separately incorporated Corporate Work Study Program.

Top Corporate Partners 2017
Nationally recognizable companies that partner with Cristo Rey schools throughout the United States

Corporate Retail
Gap, Inc.
The Home Depot
Nike, Inc.
United Airlines

Boston College
Case Western Reserve University
Georgetown University
Stanford University

Financial Services
BNP Paribas
Fifth Third Bank
Houlihan Lokey, Inc.
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Oppenheimer Funds, Inc.
PNC Bank
Robert W. Baird & Co.
US Bank
Voya Financial, Inc.

California State Senate
Office of the Mayor: City of Chicago
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
U.S. Forest Service

Eli Lilly & Company
Kaiser Permanente
The University of Chicago Medical Center

Allstate Insurance Company
Blue Cross Blue Shield
UnitedHealth Group

Jones Day
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Mayer Brown LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
Winston and Strawn

American Red Cross
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Catholic Charities
Habitat for Humanity
The Salvation Army
United Way

Professional Services
Deloitte & Touche, LLP
Ernst & Young, LLP
Grant Thornton LLP
McKinsey & Company

Real Estate
Brookfield Office Properties
Jones Lang LaSalle

Cisco Systems, Inc.

American Express
Ford Motor Company
General Motors

College Initiatives

“Cristo Rey debunks the common education argument that poverty holds low-income students back.”

- Education Dive

With 4,100 graduates enrolled in college and 6,000 projected to be enrolled in 2020, the Cristo Rey Network is a major contributor to the national discourse on college match, access, persistence, and completion for first generation youth.

Through the generous investment of the Wilson Sheehan Foundation, the Cristo Rey Network launched College Initiatives 360 designed to expand and strengthen Cristo Rey schools’ college-going culture and support for students and graduates on their path to and through college. This multi-pronged program emphasizes staff development, more targeted use of data and technology, and a College Success Fund that the national office awards to schools on a competitive basis for defined uses to increase their institutional capacity for college support.

Cristo Rey is at the forefront of the alumni support field developing within the higher education landscape, and this program enables more Cristo Rey schools to employ an Alumni Advisor to offer targeted interventions, advocacy, and connectivity to our graduates as they navigate this unchartered territory. In addition, the national office College Initiatives Team strategically collaborates with 45 University Partners that recognize the value of a Cristo Rey education and the promise and ambition of our graduates.