Partnering with more than 2,000 businesses, Cristo Rey schools are changing the face of urban education in the United States.
Assuming the role of an employee leasing agency, the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) has streamlined the process for employing their students. Students are not on the payroll of the employing organization; rather they are employees of the school’s separately incorporated CWSP, which the sponsoring organization pays quarterly, annually, or monthly for the services of the students.
Every Cristo Rey student takes a full course load of college preparatory coursework for four years, as he or she participates one day each week in a four-year CWSP to fund the majority of their tuition.
Students at Cristo Rey schools work in job-sharing teams of four. Each student works five full days a month, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Their academic schedules are structured so that students work without missing any classes.
Students perform a range of work from administrative to research. Some students already work in leading edge jobs; for instance, Cristo Rey students at Crate & Barrel help manage the company’s intranet Web site for Spanish-speaking employees. Students at the law firm O’Keefe, Lyons & Hynes, LLC, a long-time Cristo Rey employer in Chicago, conduct research on the Internet to support real estate tax challenges.
While initially serving as simply a financial proposition to pay the operational costs of the school for students who otherwise would not have the financial opportunity to attend a private, college preparatory high school, the CWSP has realized many real-world benefits for its students. The program has evolved into an innovative means of providing students with crucial hands-on, white-collar work experience, while simultaneously empowering them to assume an active role in financing a major portion of their education. As a result of working in a business environment, students acquire valuable job experience and marketable skills, develop a network of business contacts, gain exposure to a wide range of career opportunities, refine a strong work ethic, and increase self-esteem.