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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Cristo Rey begins first classes: Companies provide learning experiences for students

Cristo Rey Fort Worth CWSP Partners

Alliance Airport/Hillwood

Bank of America

Byrne Construction



Tarrant County College District

Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth


Texland Petroleum

Fort Worth Housing Solutions

Stromberg Investments


Pinnacle Bank

Texas Health Resources

Catholic Charities Fort Worth


Texas Pacific Group

General Motors

Meador Auto Group

Source: Cristo Rey Fort Worth


It was loud and it was raucous.

And, unlike many school events, it was supposed to be.

On Friday, Aug. 17, Cristo Rey Fort Worth held its Inaugural Draft Day.

Modeled after the NFL’s Draft Day, the event pumped up the enthusiasm as the newly-opened school’s 75 freshmen were drafted to their work assignments for the 2018-2019 school year.

Cristo Rey Fort Worth students earn half of their college prep high school tuition by working one day a week at some of Tarrant County’s top businesses and organizations including AZZ, InsureZone, Hillwood/Alliance Airport, Byrne Construction, Texas Health Resources, Catholic Charities Fort Worth, Higginbotham Insurance, General Motors, Multatech, Texland Petroleum, TPG, and others.

Presented by Arlington’s Sector 5 Digital, which recently produced videos for the opening of Texas Live!, the event took place at Hope Farm Gymnasium, 865 E. Ramsey Ave., not far from the Cristo Rey Fort Worth campus. To add in more sports bombast, Texas Rangers announcer for Fox Sports Southwest John Rhadigan kicked off the festivities as master of ceremonies.

It wasn’t all loud music and raucous action.

The evented included an invocation by Fort Worth Diocese Bishop Michael Olson and remarks by John Pritchett, president of Cristo Rey Fort Worth. Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison and radio sportscaster Scott Sidway served as color announcers alongside Dani Ray Barton, director of the school’s Corporate Work Study Program.

“This year we are welcoming our founding partners to the Corporate Work Study Program at Cristo Rey Fort Worth and are proud of their commitment to our students, innovation in education, and the future of Tarrant County,” Pritchett said. “In addition to contributing $8,000 toward the cost of tuition, our partners, through the Corporate Work Study Program, provide our students with hands-on work experience in a real-world setting and a chance to develop leadership skills that will last a lifetime.”

The Cristo Rey Fort Worth Corporate Work Study Program, which is separately incorporated, operates as an employee leasing agent, in which the students are employees of the Work Study Program, not the corporate client.

The Work Study Program staff will handle all payroll, W-4, I-9, Workers’ Compensation, FICA, FUTA and other employer issues for the students. The fee charged to the company is deducted as a business expense, not a donation.

Students at Cristo Rey schools work in job-sharing teams of four to cover a standard business week, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., during the school year. The academic schedules are structured so that students are available to work without missing a class.

The Cristo Rey Network of schools is an innovative educational model that gives students a Catholic, college prep education while earning work experience in a corporate setting.

Cristo Rey means Christ the King in Spanish.

Student workers earn their education by fulfilling clerical and administrative roles in a wide range of departments such as accounting, human resources, finance, marketing, information technology, legal, records, mail and office services.

The program has garnered corporate and philanthropic support.

In 2003, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with venture philanthropists B.J. and Bebe Cassin, provided seed funding to promote the replication of the Cristo Rey schools. In 2012, the Walton Family Foundation invested of $1.6 million in the Cristo Rey Network to accelerate growth, primarily in states that have either vouchers or tax credits.

The new school is one of 35 Cristo Rey 35 Catholic college preparatory high schools currently serving more than 10,000 students from low-income families. It is an independent 501(c)(3) entity governed by its own board of directors.

The Cristo Rey Network started more than 20 years ago in Chicago. Students earn 60 percent of their tuition in a corporate work study program working one day a week in professional settings while gaining real-world work experience at the same time. Philanthropy covers 30 percent of the cost, and the family is asked to provide whatever it can, typically about 10 percent of the estimated $14,000 annual tuition.

Cristo Rey Fort Worth will be the third Catholic high school in Fort Worth, joining Nolan and Cassata.

Those schools will continue to serve their unique student populations, said Pritchett, president of the new school who has had a career in government and public affairs.

Cristo Rey Fort Worth High School opened with ninth grade students and will add a grade of the same size each subsequent year until it serves grades nine through 12.

The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, Cristo Rey Fort Worth High School’s religious sponsor, donated property at 1007 E. Terrell Ave. to the school. The new school sits on the site of the former Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School in the Terrell Heights neighborhood.

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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