Phoenix Investors gives $1 million for new Cristo Rey school building

Andy Stith, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee president.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee has received a $1 million gift from Milwaukee-based real estate investment firm Phoenix Investors and The Crivello Family Foundation.

The gift will allow the high school to pay off a substantial amount of the remaining debt associated with building its new campus.

The growing Catholic high school recently built a new $33 million, 100,000-square-feet facility at 1818 W. National Ave. in Milwaukee’s Clarke Square neighborhood to replace its 45,000-square-foot location in West Allis.

Cristo Rey first acquired the site of the new school – a former Pick ‘n Save store building – in fall 2017.

It has funded the new school with a combination of debt and donations to its capital campaign.

Frank Crivello, chairman and founder of Phoenix Investors, said he first learned of the national network of Cristo Rey schools in 2004 when it was featured on a “60 Minutes” segment. A hallmark of the network’s approach is its work-study program, through which students receive professional work experience and learn soft skills to help them find jobs after they graduate.

“I was moved,” Crivello said of the “60 Minutes” segment. “I too am a first-generation American. A female student was featured in the segment. She obtained a full scholarship to Ohio Xavier University. As she and her mother cried over the joy of being the first in her family to attend college, I remembered being 9 years old as my sister Madeline did the same, and how she and my parents cried. Madeline went to Harvard for her undergraduate education and then Yale Medical School.”

Phoenix Investors has partnered with the corporate work study program since the Milwaukee school opened in 2015. Roughly 75 corporate partners in total work with Cristo Rey in Milwaukee.

“Following the remarkable work of Andy Stith, Fr. Johnson, and the entire Cristo Rey team, we decided to show our appreciation and commitment with a $1 million gift,” Crivello said. “My family has enjoyed the American dream. We are grateful to share our success with others so deserving of a chance like the one I, my brother, and sister had.”

Cristo Rey will name its athletic field “Phoenix Field” in recognition of the gift.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous gift from Phoenix Investors and The Crivello Family Foundation,” said Andrew Stith, president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee. “They have seen first-hand the impact a Cristo Rey education can have on our students and community through our Corporate Work Study Program. This transformational investment in our mission will allow us to continue to provide the facilities and opportunities necessary for current and future students to become leaders in the Milwaukee area in the years to come.”

The school currently enrolls 429 students and is one of 37 schools in the Cristo Rey network.

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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