The Society of Jesus seeks how to respond to the needs of Chicago's Pilsen community, a working-class neighborhood teeming with Mexican immigrant families who lack good and affordable educational options for their children.
Bradley Schaeffer, S.J., the Provincial of the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus, invites newly-ordained James Gartland, S.J. to conduct a needs assessment. His door-to-door canvassing of neighborhood families led to the recommendation to establish a Jesuit-sponsored college preparatory high school.
Father John P. Foley, S.J. returned to his hometown of Chicago by invitation of his Jesuit Provincial. The Provincial wanted to create a quality, Catholic, college preparatory high school in the Pilsen community of Chicago, a Hispanic neighborhood of working-class families with very limited options for giving their children a high quality education. The Jesuits literally walked the streets of the Pilsen neighborhood, asking the residents what they and their families needed most. A college preparatory high school was their response. Thus, Father Foley and his team created a plan to implement an innovative business model, the Corporate Work Study Program.
The international Christian Brothers meeting in Rome challenges members worldwide to find creative ways to serve the poor. Later that year, as a guest speaker at the annual education conference of the U.S. Christian Brothers schools held in Chicago, Fr. Foley challenges the Brothers to replicate what is happening in Chicago.
Christian Brothers are open and helpful in forming this new type of school board with both business leaders and educators together. De La Salle North Catholic High School opens its doors. The school points with pride to being the second school within the new Cristo Rey Network.
The first formal meeting of the Cristo Rey Network takes place at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. Six approved groups who are conducting feasibility studies, funded by the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation, attend the meeting. This meeting marks the adoption of the Cristo Rey trademark Cristo Rey Network®.
In January, the first Mission Effectiveness Standards are approved.
IRS grants non-profit status to the Cristo Rey Network in March 2003. In May, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation formally commit $9.9 million to continue replication of new schools.
Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver opens in September.
Six new schools follow in rapid succession:
- Saint Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland
- Cristo Rey New York High School in Harlem
- San Miguel High School in Tucson
- Cristo Rey Boston High School
- Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep in Waukegan
- Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School in Lawrence, MA.
Fr. Foley resigns as President of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in June to become the new President of the Cristo Rey Network.
60 Minutes profiles Cristo Rey Jesuit and the early replication of the school across the country.
In August, Robert Birdsell, a proven leader with a strong background in Catholic school teaching and educational research and consulting, is elected by the Board as the new President of the Network. Fr. Foley assumes the position of Executive Chair for the Network.
Six additional schools join the Cristo Rey movement:
- Holy Family Cristo Rey High School in Birmingham
- Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore
- Christ the King Preparatory School in Newark
- Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis
- Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Washington, DC
- Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis.
The Cristo Rey Network launches the Educational Enrichment Initiative, an ambitious long term plan to set clear college-ready standards for all students and to provide instructional tools for teachers to help students achieve these standards.
The Cristo Rey Network hosts its first Leadership Academy in conjunction with Northwestern University’s Kellogg Center for Nonprofit Management to serve the needs of current and future Cristo Rey school leaders.
Two new schools open:
- Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco
- Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory High School of Houston.
DePaul Cristo Rey High School in Cincinnati opens its doors as a member of the Cristo Rey Network.
The 2011 Leadership Roundtable Best Practices Award for Innovation in Catholic Education is presented to the Cristo Rey Network.
Fr. Joe Parkes, S.J. is elected the new Chair of the Cristo Rey Network Board and Fr. John Foley, S.J. becomes Chair Emeritus and Chief Mission Officer.
Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School opens.
The Walton Family Foundation announces a $1.6 million investment in the Cristo Rey Network to support the onboarding of the School Growth Team and award seed funding to new schools opening in choice markets.
One of 2,400 nominees nationwide, the Cristo Rey Network receives the National CLASSY Award for Educational Advancement.
More international recognition follows. The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) honors the Cristo Rey Network’s Corporate Work Study Program, naming it one of six groundbreaking projects from worldwide to win a 2012 WISE Award. The Cristo Rey Network joins MIT as one of the four U.S.-based innovations to win this award.
Two new schools open:
- Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School
- Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School.
Putting Education to Work: How Cristo Rey High Schools Are Transforming Urban Education by Megan Sweas is published in August 2014 by HarperCollinsPublishers.
Jane E. Genster is named President and CEO. Previously Vice President and General Counsel at Georgetown University and a member of the Cristo Rey Network Board of Directors, Jane brings a deep commitment to Cristo Rey, broad experience in secondary and post-secondary education, and extraordinary leadership skills.
Board of Directors adopts 2020 Strategic Plan, which seeks to deepen impact while sustaining growth, and projects 14,000 students in 40 Cristo Rey schools and 20,000 graduates by the start of the next decade.
And then there are 30! Two new schools open:
- Cristo Rey Jesuit Milwaukee High School
- Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep
In August 2015, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago participates in a virtual conversation with Pope Francis in anticipation of his historic trip to the United States. The ABC News special program airs on “20/20.”
Two new schools open:
- Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School
- Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School.
The Wilson Sheehan Foundation awards a three-year gift totaling $2.4 million to launch College Initiatives 360, a multi-pronged program aimed at increasing college completion by for Cristo Rey graduates.