There are two things that get me really jacked in life: Good ideas, and good ideas put into action.
Cristo Rey is a network of private schools set up primarily in neglected urban neighborhoods.
Here’s what’s great about the schools: Their mission is to narrow the ‘achievement gap‘ that is to say they focus on preparing at-risk, urban, and blue collar youth with the attitudes and skills necessary to achieve in college and beyond.
Here’s how they do it (excerpt from Workplace U on American RadioWorks)
The Cristo Rey business plan works this way: Employers pay the school what they would pay a full-time, entry-level employee, minus benefits. In Birmingham that’s $21,500. That one job is shared among four students, who each work on a different week day. A student’s work-study income pays about 70 percent of that student’s tuition. Parents pay a fee based on their income sometimes less than $100 a month. Foundations, charities and donations make up the rest. The Cristo Rey Network is sponsored by dozens of major corporations and by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other philanthropies.
The Story (on Workplace U) focuses on Carlon Harris a high school junior in Birmingham who works as an administrative assistant at a Birmingham business incubator. This would a daunting assignment for any high schooler, then factor the social, economic and potential challenges at home.
Various types of public charter schools have been filling this void for quite some time now and are now very popular across urban cities. High Tech High is a group of high schools, middle schools and one elementary school in San Diego County whose goals (among others) are to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students in math and engineering who succeed in high school and post-secondary education (High Tech High’s Goals).
While High Tech High’s science focus is badly needed in American Education, their admissions process is a lottery- A lottery??? What good does that do anyone? You’re removing any element of motivation.
Cristo Rey has found the winning formula; motivated kids possibly lacking family or social structure put them in a situation with high expectations combined with real-world experience that shows them what they’re working towards.