Cristo Rey Network provides look at Fort Worth plans

Cristo Rey Network provides Working for a Fortune 500 company while in a college-prep school and being accepted into an elite university seems like unattainable goals for many youth living in poverty. But Father John Foley, founder of the Cristo Ray Network, believes the amount of money and resources a family lacks should not be a reason for bright, eager students to miss out.

Economically disadvantaged students will reap the benefits of Foley’s conviction when a new college-prep school opens in the fall of 2018. Foley, along with Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson was at the school’s planned location Wednesday, sharing details for a Cristo Rey High School at 1007 E. Terrell Ave. on Fort Worth’s South Side.

About 100 community members came to the event to learn more about the school, its mission and what it will take to become a reality in Fort Worth.

“We started this because there was so much talent going to waste,” Foley said.

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Cristo Rey Network was created to break the cycle of poverty by providing youth with a quality education and real-life work experiences. Students attending the school work one day per week in a real job of their choice through the Corporate Work Study Program.

Businesses who commit hiring the students are partners, paying the student’s wages to the school to cover expenses. Students in return get real life work experience at top-notch corporations and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best universities.

“This isn’t about just graduating from high school,” Foley said. “It’s about graduating from college.”

The school’s official name, Cristo Rey Fort Worth High School at Our Mother of Mercy, will be built at the site of the recently closed Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School, which was donated to the project by Olson. Cristo Rey Fort Worth is an independent school with religious endorsement by Bishop Michael Olson and the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.

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Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison, who is on the school’s feasibility study committee, said 35 business commitments are needed for the school’s first year, along with monetary donations to help fund the $2.6 million project, not including capital funding.

To date, $1.6 million has been raised and 24 area business entities have committed to partnering with the Fort Worth school including Wingstop, United Way of Tarrant County, Bank of America, City of Fort Worth, and Texas Health Resources.

Cristo Rey Fort Worth follows Dallas and Houston as the state’s third institution in the Cristo Rey Network, which has 30 high schools, 46 university partners that enroll and support Cristo Rey graduates, and more than 2,300 corporate partners nationwide.