Cristo Rey - Charlestown Partnership Helps Baltimore City Youth to Succeed

CATONSVILLE, MD (August 27, 2015) -- Quanetta Cox always knew she wanted to do something with her life to help others. She took proactive steps to do this as a student at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School , a Catholic co-educational college preparatory school that empowers students in Baltimore City to succeed in college, work and life.

Today she is a Home Support Aide at Charlestown retirement community where she is responsible for assisting independent residents in their home with personal care such as dressing and eating and activities related to daily living such as doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping and light housekeeping.

Cox took classes at Cristo Rey four days a week and worked one day a week. She interned at Mercy Hospital, St. Vincent DePaul, Mercy Ridge, Johns Hopkins University, and Charlestown.

"I always felt as if I was given special attention at Cristo Rey," said Cox, who graduated in 2011. "The teachers were always interested in wanting me to succeed."

Her success has been on the fast track at Charlestown when she was first hired as a Dining Services Associate. She has since earned her Nursing Assistant License and will continue to work at Charlestown when she begins study in Mortuary Science at Community College of Baltimore County this fall.

"Everyone at Charlestown has been so nice and supportive of me," said Cox. "I have learned a lot about the work ethic from coworkers, and also from residents."

Charlestown started its relationship with Cristo Rey in fall 2008, with four student interns.  Each year it has four students, some returning from the previous year and some new to the program.  Six students have worked more than one year with Charlestown.

“Our partnership with Cristo Rey brings much excitement each year,” said Emily Fowler, Philanthropy Coordinator for Charlestown and the partnership’s liaison.  “Some students start off very timid, but by the end of the school year their personalities are almost unrecognizable, and I truly believe that the Charlestown culture plays a significant role in helping them grow and flourish.”

The collaboration of the Maryland Province Jesuits, who sponsor the school, and the Cristo Rey Network formed the organizational backbone for the founding of Cristo Rey. The Maryland Jesuits bring proven leadership to the school, having advanced educational opportunities for the young people of Baltimore City since 1852.

A year-long feasibility study completed in July 2005 identified the need for more opportunities for low-income Baltimore high school students, and the Maryland Jesuits decided to launch Cristo Rey.

The educational model for Cristo Rey is based on a school the Jesuits founded in 1996 in the inner-city Pilsen/Little Village neighborhood in Chicago. Families wanted a better life for their children, and the Jesuits saw that education was the way out of poverty.

Low-income children have few options for quality, affordable college preparatory education, and the problem of how to pay for this college prep education at first seemed insurmountable. The solution came through an innovative corporate internship program that gave students the opportunity to earn money toward the cost of their education.

Currently 25 schools across the country are in the Cristo Rey Network. Several more are in the feasibility study.