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Thought Leadership Views From Peachtree

Coca-Cola and Cristo Rey: Partners Providing Opportunity

Central Atlanta Progress

By Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School

When an entrepreneurial, innovative high school offering a college-prep education and a corporate work study program to underserved students opened its doors in 2014, The Coca-Cola Company was one of the first corporate partners to join Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School’s mission. Today, Coca-Cola remains a dedicated advocate in providing Cristo Rey students an opportunity to be introduced to the corporate world and to envision their own professional careers.

The Cristo Rey model is designed to address the issues of education, access, and opportunity for students with limited financial resources. The school recruits industrious, dedicated students who work five days a month at partner companies to fund much of the cost of their education. In 2019, 99% of the school’s 525 students were students of color. Cristo Rey’s curriculum has enabled all 356 alumni from three graduating classes to earn 100% acceptance into college and $45 million in scholarships.

Through the Corporate Work Study Program, partners like Coca-Cola provide jobs for the students to help prepare them to be competitive in the future job market. Impressive resumes are built while in high school. Working in a corporate setting motivates students, inspires them to think big, and opens doors to the possibilities available to them.

Peyton Davie, a freshman at Cristo Rey, was eager to get started when she was assigned her placement at Coca-Cola. “I expected the Corporate Work Study program to be an eye opener to the workforce and an example of a possible career in the corporate world.”

Coca-Cola Vice President Marie Quintero-Johnson notes the intentional investment in hiring Cristo Rey students makes their college-prep education a reality while providing value both to the students and the corporate partners. “Students get the opportunity to experience a professional environment. They learn about working in a global company. The experience often helps shape what they want to study in the future and makes them aware of the broader opportunities that can be available to them.”

Peyton says her time at Coke will influence her future. Her co-workers inspired her and taught her how to be part of a productive team. From the partner perspective Quintero-Johnson observes, “It’s incredibly rewarding to take the time to participate in the growth and learning of these students.”

Join Coca-Cola and Cristo Rey to provide opportunities for deserving students. Contact David O’Shea at doshea@cristoreyatlanta.org for information.

About Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School

Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School is a Catholic learning community that educates young people of limited economic means, of any faith or creed, to become men and women for and with others. Through a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, integrated with a relevant work study experience, students graduate prepared for college and life.

About the Cristo Rey Network

The Cristo Rey Network provides a quality, Catholic, college preparatory education to young people who live in urban communities with limited educational options. Our mission is clear – college success for Cristo Rey Network students. Member schools utilize a rigorous academic model, supported with effective instruction, to prepare students with a broad range of academic abilities for college. Cristo Rey Network schools employ an innovative Corporate Work Study Program that provides students with real world work experiences. Every student works five full days a month to fund the majority of his or her education, gain job experience, grow in self-confidence, and realize the relevance of his or her education.

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