Cristo Rey San Diego is helping disadvantaged students get to college

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Cristo Rey San Diego High School is looking ahead to their second year of supporting low-income students with a college preparatory education and work study jobs and is seeking the community’s help. To qualify to attend the school, a family’s income has to fall below 300 percent of the federal poverty rate. 

The nonprofit high school welcomed its inaugural class of freshman students in August 2020 with virtual classes, then opened in-person in September. Now, they have more than twice as many students enrolled in the coming school year, but not enough partner businesses to support the work study program. 

“I feel like it is definitely helping me improve,” said Cristo Rey student Camila Tirado in an interview. “Career-wise I will be able to have a different resume than most high school students.” Camila aspires to be an immigration lawyer.

Current work-study partners include prestigious San Diego institutions like Rady Children’s Hospital, CBRE, Precision Diagnostics, Realty Income, Scripps Mercy and Father Joe’s Village. CBRE Managing Director Natalie Dahl provides the students a variety of tasks that includes data entry, fielding calls and working on more research complex projects with timelines and expectations. Dahl shares that students benefit from seeing that they belong in the workplace. “It’s about exposure, seeing what the world is like beyond the classroom, being able to act on something and provide value and contribute to something – that’s how we build confidence,” Dahl said.

Most Cristo Rey students come to the school one-to-two years behind grade level, often due to underperforming schools in their neighborhoods. The goal of the school is to help them advance at an accelerated path so they can close this gap and students can graduate at a level where they are prepared to be successful in college and beyond. Cristo Rey San Diego High School is preparing students with limited economic means to be successful in the workforce of tomorrow. 

Steve Egge, Corporate Work Study Director at Cristo Rey San Diego shares, “These students are certainly making an impact and the work study program exposes them to potential career pathways, develops essential transferable work skills and builds confidence and aspiration so important to college and career success. When they graduate, they will have a better resume than most college seniors.” Egge added, “and just as importantly, our partner companies see great value in a dependable, consistent workforce and an immediate return to their bottom line.”

The Corporate Work Study Program is an innovative model of education that gives students a college-preparatory education while earning work experience in a corporate setting. The program also helps to bridge tuition shortfalls. Cristo Rey San Diego’s work-study program means students spend five days a month working at one of the school’s corporate partners to help pay for their tuition while obtaining practical, real-world experience. In order to support their incoming class of 80 students, Cristo Rey High School is looking for an additional 20 corporate partners in San Diego to help support their students’ education.

To learn more about how you can help, click here to visit their website.

Michelle Stansbury is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer. Feel free to reach out to her at [email protected] with story ideas!

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