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Cristo Rey Network Secures $32.3 Million to Deepen Impact and Expand Catholic Education

JANUARY 5, 2021

Today, the Cristo Rey Network announced $32.3 million in charitable contributions to propel the organization's Putting Education to Work initiative, empowering students from families of limited economic means to achieve their aspirations. The five-year Putting Education to Work program (2019-2023) is designing and delivering high-impact, catalyzing programmingin the movement's 37 career focused, college preparatory Catholic high schools.

Despite hundreds of Catholic school closures across the U.S., the Cristo Rey movement has grown over 25 years, garnering global recognition for its distinctive approach to education that partners with the professional business community to prepare underrepresented youth (98% students of color) for success in college and the workplace. Boasting 20,600 alumni who demonstrate proven results, the Cristo Rey Network launched Putting Education to Work to continue its progress toward:

  1. developing a talented, diverse workforce;
  2. achieving a college graduation rate equal to that of economically advantaged youth; and
  3. expanding to 50 Catholic, Cristo Rey schools serving 20,000 students annually.

"Our philanthropic community has stepped up - affirming their generous commitment to safeguard and expand the Cristo Rey mission for the next 25 years," said Cristo Rey Network President and CEO, Elizabeth Goettl. "Through competitive school grants and the scaling of innovative programs, Putting Education to Work is strengthening the capacity of established and future schools - to benefit our students, our country's future leaders."

In the face of significant COVID-19 challenges, Putting Education to Work is demonstrating early progress towards its ambitious goals. Three highlights include:

  1. All-Time High Student Recruitment and Retention: Network-wide enrollment has reached 12,300 students across 37 Cristo Rey Network schools, and the organization's four-year high school student retention rate is at an all-time high of 69%.
  2. Strong College Enrollment and Completion: For the Cristo Rey Network's Class of 2017, 50% are projected to achieve a bachelor's degree, dramatically increasing four-year college completion towards a goal of 62%, the national completion rate for students from high income families.

    Notably, while this fall's direct college enrollment in the U.S. has plunged due to COVID, the Cristo Rey Class of 2020 direct enrollment in four-year degree programs decreased by only 3% from fall 2019. Early estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse suggest a national enrollment decline for graduates of low-income high schools of 21% at public institutions and 25% at private non-profit institutions, relative to fall 2019 enrollment rates.
  1. Sustained New School Growth: Since 2019, three new Cristo Rey schools have opened (in Las Vegas, Richmond, San Diego), and four more are in development to open by 2023, expanding the Network to 41 schools towards the movement's goal of 50.

Hear directly from lead Putting Education to Work investors about why they support the Cristo Rey Network. Under the leadership of National Honorary Co-Chairs John P. Foley, SJ, Cristo Rey Network Chair Emeritus and Chief Mission Officer, and Thomas W. Horton, Former Chairman of American Airlines, Inc, Putting Education to Work garnered support from donors nation-wide. For a complete list of Champion Investors who contributed more than $25,000, visit

"These visionary philanthropists have enabled us to proceed in advancing our strategic priorities, but we remain in need of new partners," Goettl continued. "The unforeseen challenges which have emerged as a result of the pandemic have expanded schools' needs, which extend well beyond what our initial $31.5 million Putting Education to Work goal, established in 2018, can accomplish."

In the school year 2019-2020, Cristo Rey students earned $80 million towards the cost of their own education through the Corporate Work Study Program. This school year, due to pandemic conditions, a majority of students are not deployed in a job placement onsite or remotely, resulting in a decline of projected Corporate Work Study Program earnings to $53 million.

"The Corporate Work Study Program has long been the economic engine that drives this innovative approach to Catholic high schools. Young people realize the value of their education, gain exposure to new career pathways, and build a professional network that begins breaking down socioeconomic and cultural barriers that can inhibit success," remarked John E. O'Shea, Cristo Rey Network Board Chair. "To offset the financial loss of students not working, fundraising is now more essential than ever, to ensure that our schools not only survive, but thrive, through this pandemic."

To learn more about the Cristo Rey Network, visit