Cristo Rey launching campaign to support new campus in Clarke Square neighborhood

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Cristo Rey Jesuit High School has launched a fundraising campaign to support its plans to convert the former Pick ‘n Save store building in Milwaukee’s Clarke Square neighborhood into a new campus.

A rendering of the entry plaza to the new Cristo Rey Jesuit High School building. (Bray Architects)

School leaders this week said renovating the property at 1818 W. National Ave. on the city’s south side is expected to cost between $20 million and $25 million. The school plans to fund the project with campaign funds, new market tax credits, long term financing and reserves from ongoing operations.

Cristo Rey leaders first announced last fall the school had acquired the 112,699-square-foot building, which is more than double the size of its current campus at 1215 S. 45th St. in West Milwaukee.

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The Catholic high school, which first opened in 2015, has about 400 students enrolled at its West Milwaukee location. New student enrollment and retention has outpaced the school’s original projections, prompting leaders to look for a new permanent location with a capacity of 500 students. The new site, which is located on 8 acres, provides more space and is more centrally located for students, the school said.

The new campus could open in time for the 2020 school year.

“This building is much more than brick and mortar, it’s about transforming the lives of our students and their families, and we’re excited about the next chapter and our impact in Milwaukee,” said Andy Stith, president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee.

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The school, part of the national Cristo Rey Network, includes a work-study program in which students work one day a week at one of 75 corporate partners. It’s designed to teach students soft skills that will help them find jobs after they graduate and network in the Milwaukee business community.

Some of the school’s corporate partners include Husch Blackwell, A.O. Smith, Aurora Health Care, Badger Meter, Northwestern Mutual, Froedtert Health, Godfrey & Kahn S.C., Kohl’s, Rockwell Automation and Harley-Davidson.

“This school has, in a short amount of time, demonstrated an ability to have an impact on the lives of the kids that we’re educating, on the neighborhood and the community that we’re in, but just as important on the city of Milwaukee,” said Paul Eberle, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School governance board chair and CEO of Husch Blackwell. “This is really about investing in the city of Milwaukee, investing in the future of our workforce, investing in these kids, who are now given this opportunity to dramatically change the trajectory of their lives. These kids are going to be successful, we’re just helping them get started.”

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