The JSA Charity Spotlight: Cristo Rey NY High School’s Access to Success Dinner

The JSA Blog, this week featuring: The Cristo Rey New York High School. Cristo Rey NY High School will hold its annual Access to Success Dinner on October 27th, 2022 at The University Club in Manhattan. This event serves as a thank you to their most loyal supporters and typically honors a partner who has been instrumental in the success of CRNYHS students.

This year’s honoree and keynote speaker will be Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President Emeritus of Fordham University. In the nearly 20 years that Fr. McShane served as President, Fordham welcomed over 101 CRNYHS graduates to the school. The Cristo Rey Network has 38 schools across the country, and students from many of those institutions have also attended and graduated from Fordham. This is in no small part due to Fr. McShane’s commitment to the Cristo Rey mission. In 2020, Fr. McShane announced that Fordham would make a college degree possible for any CRNYHS or Network student by covering up to the full amount of their tuition. No university president has had a greater impact on the success of Cristo Rey New York’s students.

Cristo Rey New York’s donors and partners, like Fr. McShane, have demonstrated the perseverance and courage in their support that its students embody. One example of those persevering students is Abe Mendez, a member of the founding class of 2008 who will be speaking at the dinner. Abe, one of three triplets who graduated that year, worked diligently to make it through Cristo Rey and has taken his experiences and made a successful career for himself. He first received the Thomas G. Labrecque Smart Start Scholarship, which provided him with a full scholarship to Fordham University as well as a paid internship at JPMorgan Chase. Abe was offered a full-time job at JPMorgan Chase after graduation, where he remained until he accepted a role in Corporate Philanthropy at Barclays in London. He now is the Senior Vice President of Account Strategy at Per Scholas, a nonprofit organization that helps people hone the very skills Abe was exposed to through Cristo Rey.

Cristo Rey’s extraordinary mission is to provide a Catholic, co-ed college preparatory experience to students who do not have the educational background nor financial means to attend another school. CRNYHS focuses on cura personalis, care for the whole person, and not only provides an encouraging environment but a rigorous academic program. They have never raised their tuition of $2,000, but it costs nearly $20,000 a year to educate each student. What sets Cristo Rey apart is the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP). In a normal year, each student works 1 day a week for a corporate partner. The company pays about 40% of the cost of their education, and the student gains invaluable career experience that puts them ahead of their peers when they graduate college. Tuition and CWSP provide about half of the cost to educate each student, but a gap remains.

It is because of events like Access to Success and the school’s donors that Cristo Rey New York High School is able to continue offering the life changing education and work experience that have led to stories like Abe’s. He credits Cristo Rey for “lifting him out of poverty” and believes the CWSP program is what inspired him all these years to take pride in his work and “give each project all [he’s] got!” CRNYHS hopes to continue to see that impact by collaborating with new partners and introducing new donors to the school.

This is where events like Access to Success have their biggest impact. The dinner will help cover the cost of educating all CRNY students in the coming year. Witness what makes these graduates so special, celebrate their success, and join Cristo Rey in its mission to empower young people. Visit the EVENT website to learn more, purchase a ticket, or to make a donation to help maintain the access to success that is vital to Cristo Rey New York’s students. You can also view and download the official event brochure below!