Education Funding

Foundations’ Gift to Help Expand ‘Cristo Rey’ Model

By Mary Ann Zehr — May 28, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it is joining with the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation to give $18.9 million over the next five years to help replicate a model of Roman Catholic secondary schooling for needy youths in urban areas.

The two foundations plan to help start 12 schools that model themselves after the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, a school started in 1996 in which 460 Hispanic students from low-income families work part time for local businesses to cover most of the cost of their schooling.

With the help of planning and start-up grants from the Cassin Foundation, three Cristo Rey high schools have already been founded in addition to the one in Chicago. Those schools are located in Austin, Texas; Los Angeles; and Portland, Ore. A fourth is scheduled to open in Denver this coming school year.

“This is an incredibly innovative model that serves our target population—disadvantaged kids who don’t have high-quality education options,” said Marie L. Groark, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation. She said that about 5 percent of the foundation’s education funding goes to Catholic or private schools. Ms. Groark noted that Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, attended a Catholic high school in Dallas.

The effort to replicate Cristo Rey schools is part of a $450 million initiative by the Seattle-based Gates Foundation to improve education for high school students by creating new small schools and converting large schools into smaller ones. The Gates grant will be implemented by the Cristo Rey Network, a nonprofit organization headed by Jeff Thielman, who is also the executive director of the Cassin Foundation, which has a motto of “transforming urban America one student at a time.”

Matter of Faith

Mr. Thielman said the Cassin Foundation has supported Catholic schools on the national level “out of our own faith as Catholics, and secondly because Catholic schools have worked.” B.J. Cassin, the foundation’s chairman, is Roman Catholic.

Mr. Thielman, who works from an office at Boston College in Newton, Mass., said the Cassin Foundation hopes to help reverse the trend of Catholic school closures in cities. (“Catholic School Closures on Increase,” May 21, 2003.)

As well as supporting the start-up of Cristo Rey schools, the Cassin Foundation has been paying for the expansion of a middle school model serving students from poor families that was started by Jesuits at the Nativity Mission Center school in New York City in 1971. Mr. Thielman said the foundation has spent about half of the $6 million it has pledged to that effort.

Michael J. Guerra, the president of the National Catholic Educational Association based in Washington, said that while many private donors and foundations help support Catholic schools on a local level, the Cassin Foundation and, now, the Gates Foundation are the only private foundations supporting Catholic primary or secondary schools on a national level.

He characterized the Gates contribution as “a breakthrough gift” for Catholic education. “We’re delighted to see the acknowledgment that our Catholic schools are serving low-income students,” he added.


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.
Professional Development Webinar
Disrupting PD Day in Schools with Continuous Professional Learning Experiences
Hear how this NC School District achieved district-wide change by shifting from traditional PD days to year-long professional learning cycles
Content provided by BetterLesson
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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
Teacher Perspectives: What is the Future of Virtual Education?
Hear from practicing educators on how virtual and hybrid options offer more flexibility and best practices for administrative support.
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

Education Funding 4 Ways States Are Trying to Fix How They Fund Schools
Advocates in many places are pushing for reforms that precisely target more robust aid to schools and students in need.
6 min read
one woman and two men with a large calculator and next to large stacks of bills and coins.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Education Funding Pennsylvania School Funding Is Unconstitutional, Judge Says. Here's What Could Happen Next
An appeal could be on the way, but advocates are already gearing up to make the case for funding reform.
6 min read
Stock image of a gavel on top of a pile of money.
iStock/Getty Images
Education Funding 6 Lawsuits That Could Shake Up How States Pay for Schools
Far removed from annual budgets, these lawsuits hold the potential to force states to direct more funds to their schools.
6 min read
Large white hand holding a weighing scale with a bag of money on one side and books with floating letters on the other side showing a balance of knowledge and money
Education Funding States Are Rolling in Surplus Cash, But It's Not All Good News for Schools
Some states are ramping up education spending, while others are leaving districts disappointed.
7 min read
Illustration of a man holding oversized money.
Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty