A whole new chapter in the history of the Cristo Rey Network is our partnering with universities around the country. At first blush people ask why a university would want to partner with our network of high schools. The answer is that they want our students. We are producing a significant number of college-ready graduates and all of them in a position to contribute noticeably to the diversity of a college student body. Within three years we plan to be graduating over 1800 students across the Network, not an inconsiderable number.
In our fourteen years of existence since the first school opened in Chicago, we have changed our objective a number of times. First it was to get people through secondary school; then it was to get our graduates into college; next we wanted to get our graduates out of college; and currently we have zeroed in on working with every freshman who enrolls in one of our schools to get them through college graduation.
Last week we hosted a day-long meeting at the Network office with representatives from six prominent universities. They came together to help us think through how we can best guarantee our students’ success once they reach college. We brainstormed about best practices, examined national data on college retention and graduation rates and thought through together a number of viable sustainability models for the Network itself. I think it’s all a sign that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in the Cristo Rey Network.