Transforming Richmond One Student at a Time

History & Identity

Cristo Rey Richmond

“This is a story about mission-driven innovation in education—innovation that is giving thousands of
children an opportunity to access high- quality university preparatory education.”
– Tom Vander Ark, CEO, GettingSmart

Our History

1995:  Father John P. Foley, S.J. returned to his hometown of Chicago by invitation of his Jesuit Provincial. The Provincial wanted to create a quality, Catholic, college preparatory high school in the Pilsen community of Chicago, a Hispanic neighborhood of working-class families with very limited options for giving their children a high quality education. The Jesuits literally walked the streets of the Pilsen neighborhood, asking the residents what they and their families needed most. A college preparatory high school was their response. Thus, Father Foley and his team created a plan to implement an innovative business model, the Corporate Work Study Program.

1996:  Cristo Rey Jesuit High School opened with Father Foley as founder and the first president. (see photo)

2001:  News of the success of the original Cristo Rey school spread to educators and others throughout the country. Groups in Portland, Denver and Los Angeles approached Father Foley and other Cristo Rey Jesuit High School leaders about how they might replicate the school and its mission of serving students from economically challenged families in their own communities. In response, the Cristo Rey Network of schools was founded in 2001 with Father Foley as its first president.

2003:  The Network was formally organized as a 501(c)3. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with venture philanthropists B.J. and Bebe Cassin, provided seed funding to promote the replication of the Cristo Rey schools.

2012:  The Walton Family Foundation announced its investment of $1.6 million in the Cristo Rey Network to accelerate growth, primarily in states that have either vouchers or tax credits.

2014:  The Cristo Rey Network began implementation of the organization’s 2020 Strategic Plan, with the objective to sustain growth while expanding impact. By 2020, Cristo Rey aims to serve 14,000 students annually in 40 Cristo Rey schools and have 20,000 alumni.

2016:  The Feasibility Study Committee in Richmond was formed in April of 2016, followed by the naming of the Committee Chair, Alexa Quinn, and hiring of a Feasibility Study Coordinator, Katie Yohe.  The efforts of the committee, and the community as a whole, have helped secure financial, corporate, and community support for this project.  

2017:  To further their mission and expand the healing ministry of Bon Secours, Bon Secours Ministries, founded by the Congregation of the Sisters of Bon Secours of Paris, accepted the calling as founding Religious Sponsor of Cristo Rey Richmond. 

2018:  In cooperation with the Catholic Diocese of Richmond and our canonical sponsor, Bon Secours Ministries, we secured an initial site at 304 N. Sheppard, the former home of Benedictine College Preparatory High School. In addition, Peter J. McCourt was named founding President of Cristo Rey Richmond. Generous donors showed their commitment of support providing over $2 million dollars for initial start-up costs. Following the submission of the Feasibility Study Report, the Cristo Rey Network Board approved the associate membership of Cristo Rey Richmond High School in the Network.

2019:  On Monday, August 19, 2019, Cristo Rey Richmond High School opened its doors to the Founding Class of 2023. This Founding Class included 95 students from 34 middles schools and 33 zip codes.

2023: 100% of Cristo Rey Richmond High School’s first graduating class was accepted to college and our founding Class of 2023 graduated on June 10th. Additionally, the new Student Life & Administration Building opened in September.

Our Mission

Cristo Rey Richmond is a Catholic learning community that educates young people of limited economic means to become men and women of faith, purpose, and service. Through a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, integrated with a relevant, professional work study experience, students graduate ready to succeed in college and in life.

Cristo Rey Richmond is part of the largest network of high schools in the country that exclusively serve youth with limited economic means. As a part of the Cristo Rey Network, Cristo Rey schools adhere to a shared set of Mission Effectiveness Standards to protect the integrity of the model and articulate the shared mission.

Mission Effectiveness Standards

The Mission Effectiveness Standards articulate the shared mission and identity of the Cristo Rey Network of schools. Taken as a whole, these Standards establish the intent to which schools agree to operate, and by which they can fulfill their mission and empower students to succeed in college and life as productive, faith-filled individuals.

Standard One: A Cristo Rey school is explicitly Catholic in mission and enjoys Church approval.

Standard Two: A Cristo Rey school serves only students with limited economic resources and is open to students of various faiths and cultures.

Standard Three: A Cristo Rey school is family centered and plays an active role in the local community.

Standard Four: A Cristo Rey school prepares all its students to enter and graduate from college. 

Standard Five: A Cristo Rey school requires participation by all students in the Corporate Work Study program.

Standard Six: A Cristo Rey school integrates the learning present in its work program, classroom and extracurricular experiences.

Standard Seven: A Cristo Rey school has effective administrative and board structures and complies with applicable state and federal laws.

Standard Eight: A Cristo Rey school is financially sound.

Standard Nine: A Cristo Rey School supports all students in accessing and persisting through colleges that match their achievements, needs, and ambitions.

Standard Ten: A Cristo Rey school is an active participant in the Cristo Rey Network.

Proud Members of

Richmond Chamber of Commerce
Virginia Hispanic Chamber
Metropolitan Business League
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