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Cristo Rey Network Awards Schools Student Success and Retention Grants

Originally published on the Cristo Rey Network website

Today, the Cristo Rey Network announced that eight Cristo Rey schools have been named recipients of the national office’s Student Success and Retention grant. Generously funded by The Howley Foundation, two-year grants totaling $560,000 will be distributed to help equip each school with the financial resources to develop and implement a data-driven, strategic, and intentional approach to support the academic achievement of students that impacts four-year high school student retention and ensures college readiness.

Grant recipients include:

Birmingham – Holy Family Cristo Rey High School
Chicago – Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
Columbus – Cristo Rey Columbus High School
Fort Worth – Cristo Rey Fort Worth College Prep
Oklahoma City – Cristo Rey OKC Catholic High School
Research Triangle – Cristo Rey Research Triangle High School
San Diego – Cristo Rey San Diego High School
Tampa – Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School

“These school teams will be responsible for ongoing cycles of continuous improvement – gathering and analyzing data, determining and responding to challenges, and monitoring their impact,” remarked Cristo Rey Network Chief Academic Officer Mary Kearney. “This grant expands upon our long standing partnership with The Howley Foundation. The Foundation’s lead investment in our four-year retention efforts has armed us with a better understanding of the interventions successfully stemming attrition in schools, and we are making substantial progress.”

As the third cohort of schools to engage in this robust initiative, the eight grantee schools join 14 additional Cristo Rey schools who have been grant recipients in two previous cohorts.

“The work initiated by the Cohort II retention grant is not considered an ‘add-on’, but rather now, just the way ‘we do business’ to serve our students and meet their needs,” said George Fornero, Principal of ICA Cristo Rey Academy in San Francisco. “Systems are in place to support students and to ensure that no students are lost.”

Based upon the Cristo Rey Network’s learnings from Cohorts I and II, Cohort III’s grant framework includes three essential components. Grantee schools will:

  1. design and implement summer programming to launch in summer 2021 focused on positioning incoming 9th graders for success in the transition to high school;
  2. partner with Georgia Bozeday, Ed.D., Director of Educational Services at Rush Neurobehavioral Center (RNBC), to support students’ Executive Function Skill Development through ongoing professional development, teaching of EF skills and monitoring of transfer and impact of EF skills; and
  3. utilize Cohort I and II schools’ learnings and resources to accelerate the process of the building of student success teams and implementing tiered interventions.

Since The Howley Foundation’s first investment in the Cristo Rey Network’s student retention programming, the network-wide four-year high school student retention has increased from 62% to 69%. Through the Cohort III grant, school grantees aim to improve students’ academic performance by increasing the number of students earning a GPA of 3.0 or better, and ultimately, make strong progress towards 90% four-year high school student retention, the rate currently attained by the Network’s highest performing schools.