Archdiocese Evaluates Opening High School for Disadvantaged Students

August 30, 2004

A Catholic high school for economically disadvantaged students may open in two years in the Archdiocese of Washington depending on the results of a feasibility study undertaken this fall.

The Archdiocese will evaluate the viability of opening a Cristo Rey High School. Based on a program established by Jesuits in Chicago in 1996, Cristo Rey schools match students with partners in business. Students work one day each week in an office, gaining important job and career skills while financing the majority of their own education.

“The goal of Cristo Rey schools is to attract new students to Catholic high schools and complement the existing Catholic schools. We believe this region has a large number of students who would seek a Catholic education, but simply do not have the means,” said Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Ph.D., superintendent of Catholic schools.

Cristo Rey schools, which may be sponsored by a diocese or a religious order, are self-sustaining schools that serve students who typically cannot afford a private high school and who often will become the first in their family to attend college. Students do not work directly for businesses, but are the employees of the school’s separately incorporated Corporate Internship Program that businesses pay directly for students’ work.

The Archdiocese received a grant from the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation to conduct the study, to be completed in May 2005, and is one of five organizations currently undertaking feasibility studies. A local advisory board, with school and business leaders, has been established and a study coordinator will be chosen. The feasibility study will include interviewing prospective students and parents as well as local businesses to gauge interest in the school, and identifying potential locations. The Board of the Cristo Rey Network will review the completed study for approval. If approved, the school would open in fall 2006. More information about the Cristo Rey model is at

The Archdiocese of Washington serves nearly 34,000 students in 110 PreK, elementary, secondary and special schools in the District of Columbia and Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, Montgomery and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland, including nearly 9,600 in 17 high schools.

Jennifer Reed
Office of Communications
[email protected]