School Choice & Charters

City’s Movers and Shakers Rally

By Karla Scoon Reid — September 03, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A shrinking student enrollment, dwindling funds, and a crumbling school building threatened to shutter Cardinal Ritter High School in St. Louis forever.

The tale is a familiar one for Roman Catholic schools in urban centers across the nation. But closing Cardinal Ritter wasn’t an option that the St. Louis business and philanthropic communities would consider.

Instead, they rallied behind Cardinal Ritter High, raising $30 million with the city’s archdiocese to construct a new school building and increase enrollment. When classes started at Cardinal Ritter last month, it became the first new private high school built within the St. Louis city limits in 50 years.

George J. Henry, the superintendent of Catholic education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said relying on the business community to raise money to replace the 50-year- old building that housed the school and keep it located within the city was an unprecedented move.

But David Kemper, the chief executive officer of Commerce Bancshares, a $14 billion regional bank based in St. Louis, had faith.

“The business sector really wants to help, but it’s frustrated,” he said. Searching for academic models that work in urban education, he added, can be difficult.

With Cardinal Ritter, most believed that St. Louis was banking on a proven winner.

Since its founding in 1979, the school has graduated college-ready black students, many from underprivileged city neighborhoods. Students aren’t handpicked to attend the school, and some are accepted on academic probation.

Paid Internships

In recent years, the 220-student school has had a 100 percent college-acceptance rate. Almost half the 2003 graduating class received scholarship offers, exceeding a total of $1.7 million.

For St. Louis, Mr. Kemper said, the business community was trying to find a model that would foster a critical mass of minority professionals to hire locally.

To that end, the St. Louis-based Danforth Foundation, which focuses its efforts on revitalizing the city, donated $2.5 million to endow scholarships and pay for an internship program for Cardinal Ritter students.

The program offers students paid internships with St. Louis companies, where they must commit to work for four years after college graduation.

The school is located at the edge of a part of the city that has been redeveloped into an entertainment and cultural area. Mr. Henry said he’s encouraged that Cardinal Ritter High will draw students from throughout St. Louis now. The school’s freshman class doubled to 105 students this year.

Mr. Henry also predicts a continued partnership between the archdiocese’s schools and the city’s business leaders.

“Their agenda isn’t Catholic schools,” he said. “It’s quality schools for all of our children.”

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Virtual Charters in Hot Water Again. Accusations of Fraud Prompt $150M Lawsuit
Indiana officials seek to recoup more than $150 million they say was either wrongly obtained or misspent by a consortium of virtual schools.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
2 min read
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Rokita filed a lawsuit against a group of online charter schools accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings/AP
School Choice & Charters How the Pandemic Helped Fuel the Private School Choice Movement
State lawmakers got a new talking point as they pushed to create and expand programs to send students to private schools.
8 min read
Collage showing two boys in classroom during pandemic wearing masks with cropped photo of feet and arrows going in different directions.
Collage by Gina Tomko/EducationWeek (Images: Getty)
School Choice & Charters Opinion Taking Stock After 30 Years of Charter Schools
Rick Hess speaks with Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on charter schools turning 30.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters In Fight Over Millions of Dollars for Charter Schools, a Marijuana Tax May Bring Peace
The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind a polarizing lawsuit settlement, pending certain stipulations.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
Money bills cash funds close up Getty