National Cristo Rey Network approves Fort Worth campus for August 2018 opening

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

North Texas Catholic

July 12, 2017

(Left to right) Father John Foley, SJ, founder of Cristo Rey Network, Bishop Michael Olson, and Charlie Morrison, chairman of the Cristo Rey Fort Worth Feasibility Study Committee, are seen together during an August 24, 2016 press conference and presentation at Our Mother of Mercy School. (NTC photo/Donna Ryckaert)


FORT WORTH — The hope of providing a quality, college preparatory education to disadvantaged youth in the area moved one step closer to becoming reality July 6 when organizers of Cristo Rey Fort Worth High School at Our Mother of Mercy received approval to develop a local campus.

Consent came from the national Cristo Rey Network which standardizes practices and accountability for the 32 schools in its system.

When the doors open in August 2018, 125 students are expected to become the first freshman class at the privately-operated school in southeast Fort Worth. The school will add an additional grade with an equal number of admissions each year until it serves grades nine through twelve.

Cristo Rey is a revolutionary program in Catholic education that couples rigorous academics with real life experience in the corporate world. The work/study concept — introduced by Jesuit Father John P. Foley at a south Chicago Catholic secondary school in 1996 — provides young people from low-income families with a multi-faceted education that prepares them for success in college and life.

“At the broadest level, our mission is to break the cycle of poverty and to do that through education,” explained John Pritchett, newly-appointed president of Cristo Rey Fort Worth.

Some young people are born into poverty. Others arrive there through life circumstances, he said.

“Cristo Rey expands their educational options,” he pointed out. “It gives them the opportunity to realize their own special gifts and ability to pull themselves up with the help of others.”

Hiring a principal is the next step in the school’s progress. Seventy candidates applied for the position after a national search and the selection committee will make an announcement in August, Pritchett said.

Although Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson serves as Cristo Rey Fort Worth’s religious sponsor, and the diocese donated property that once housed Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School at 1007 E. Terrell Ave., the new secondary school is not a diocesan project. Cristo Rey will operate using a financial formula that combines revenues earned from the student work/study program along with fundraising and low-cost tuition.

Corporate partners pay an annual fee to the school — not the student — for office jobs involving record keeping, reception, data entry or customer service. Teens work one day a week in a professional environment and share the job with other students. They are shuttled to and from the job by the school. The U.S. Department of Labor-approved work model does not allow access to dangerous job sites.

To date, Cristo Rey Fort Worth received 35 letters of intent from corporate partners willing to provide jobs. Organizers also raised more than $3 million for the school.

Efforts to bring Cristo Rey to Fort Worth began more than 18 months ago with a feasibility study led by local business, philanthropic and community leaders. The 41-person committee, chaired by Wingstop President and CEO Charlie Morrison, was charged with achieving certain benchmarks that demonstrated broad-based local support for a Cristo Rey school.

“We were required to interview community stakeholders as well as the parents of potential students,” said Teresa Montes, a committee member and Frost Bank vice president. “Based on those surveys we discovered that yes, this is a school that students and parents will participate in and support. We’re very excited about that.”

Nationally, Cristo Rey students have a 100 percent college acceptance rate.

“It’s been a proven concept for over 20 years now,” Montes asserted. “The business community is anxious for the school to open and non-profit organizations, who serve disadvantaged youth, are looking forward to having this alternative opportunity for high school students.”

Businesses seeking to provide substantive work opportunities in Cristo Rey Fort Worth’s Corporate Work/Study Program or requesting additional information can contact Dani Ray Barton at .

Parents wishing to get more information about Cristo Rey Fort Worth or looking for admissions information can visit CristoReyFortWorth.org or email .

FORT WORTH — The hope of providing a quality, college preparatory education to disadvantaged youth in the area moved one step closer to becoming reality July 6 when organizers of Cristo Rey Fort Worth High School at Our Mother of Mercy received approval to develop a local campus.

Published (until 7/12/2030)
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