As Cristo Rey Jesuit High School welcomes its first class of about 100 freshmen in fall 2015, support from Milwaukee’s business community will be critical to its mission to prepare students for success in college and beyond.
The Cristo Rey Network, a national Catholic-based network of high schools that primarily educate underserved students in urban communities, announced on Wednesday that it will open its 29th school in Milwaukee at 1215 S. 45th St.
As the school builds enrollment numbers, continues fundraising and structures its programming, it is also recruiting Milwaukee-area businesses to participate in the Cristo Rey Jesuit Corporate Work Study Program. That program employs students in business settings so they can learn workplace skills and cultivate relationships with area companies while exploring careers.
On the flip side, it enables employers to play a direct role in grooming the next-generation workforce, said Andrew Stith, newly named president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.
“Companies that know community need know that this is a way to really impact who their potential employees could be as they look to the future,” Stith said. “They know that if they have a community mindset – they know that this is a way to help young people in the community. But they also know that this is a way to get real work done.”
Positions filled by students fall in a spectrum of industries, rely on a spectrum of skillsets and touch a spectrum of departments, including marketing and accounts payable as well as database entry, clerical work and mailroom work.
The work study program structure places four students in a job-sharing rotation so that each student works an eight-hour shift once a week Tuesdays through Fridays. Students then take turns working an additional shift on Mondays so that each student ends up working five days a month, according to Stith.
“Our proposition to companies is that this is going to be real work and a real job,” Stith said. “So through how we manage our work program and our student work rotation, they’ll see a seamless job filled by students, and students will be able to get their education at the school at the same time.”
In most cases, Cristo Rey sets up a 10-month agreement with participating employers, known as job sponsors. If, however, a company and a student share a particularly positive work experience, the company has the option to hire the student through summer and holiday breaks.
In terms of compensation, Cristo Rey assigns its students to its own payroll. The school essentially creates its own nonprofit staffing agency, through which it operates a payroll and establishes a fee for service contract with each employer. Student wages are then collected by the staffing agency and used to pay the cost of the work study program.
So far, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School has secured nearly 30 area job sponsors, including Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C., Manpower Inc., and Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. While these sponsors will fill the program’s job needs for the 2014-15 school year, the school is seeking additional business partners as it aims to grow its enrollment to about 400 students in the years following its opening.
“As we move forward in our launch phase, we will have a work study program that will make a transformational impact on our students, and we want as many employers in the Milwaukee area to be a part of that,” Stith said.
Businesses interested in learning more about the Cristo Rey Jesuit Corporate Work Study Program can contact Stith at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 414-288-0734.