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Comcast & Cristo Rey: Partnering to Build the Workforce of 2020

By: John R. McConnell, Founder and President of Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School

Fourteen year-old Jay Lloyd walked through the main doors of the Comcast Center at 1700 JKF Boulevard on September 4, 2012 for his first day of work. Overwhelmed with mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement, he entered the skyscraper for the first time ever.

Jay, a freshman enrolled at the newly opened Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, had been selected to work in the credit and collections department at Comcast for his Work-Study job assignment.

Cristo Rey Philadelphia, located in the Logan section of North Philadelphia, opened its doors to its first freshman class in August 2012. Cristo Rey is an independent, college preparatory high school designed and operated exclusively for students from low-income households – students who could not otherwise afford a tuition-based education.

The Cristo Rey curriculum combines rigorous academics with corporate work internships in leading Philadelphia-area businesses and organizations where the students are mentored by college-educated adults. Students work in Philadelphia’s finest businesses, banks, law firms, accounting firms, and non-profits.

Comcast was the first company to partner with Cristo Rey Philadelphia when we opened in 2012. And, since then, Comcast executives, including Brian Roberts, David Cohen, and John Schanz, have encouraged many other companies to join the program.  Because of Comcast’s leadership, this school year, 90 Philadelphia-area companies employ 446 Cristo Rey students, in grades 9 through 12.

Businesses hire Cristo Rey students to do real work for real wages. The money earned at the job supports the majority of the cost of each student’s education. Students learn valuable life skills and build the self-confidence and grit needed to be successful in college and beyond.

Today, Comcast is the largest employer of Cristo Rey Philadelphia students, providing terrific internships to 40 students. These are real, challenging jobs with dedicated Comcast supervisors and mentors.

From day one, Jay loved his job at Comcast and enjoyed the mentorship of his co-workers. And Comcast loved Jay too! He continued to work at Comcast in his sophomore and junior year, working in a variety of departments. Now a senior, Jay is working at Comcast for his fourth year in supply chain. He aspires to get a degree in computer engineering and to return to Comcast as a full-time employee.

To date, Jay has received acceptances from four colleges: Penn State, Shippensburg University, Chestnut Hill College, and Widener University. He attributes his achievements to his experience at Comcast and the rigor of Cristo Rey.

“It has been four years of hard work, but I am glad I did it,” said Jay. “I have grown and matured because of my work experience and the education I have received. I don’t think I would be ready for college or would have been accepted into these colleges without Comcast and Cristo Rey.”

On June 3rd, our first class of seniors – Jay and his classmates – will graduate and go off to college. As of December 2015, 100% of the senior class had received acceptance into a four-year college.

Cristo Rey Philadelphia offers a career-focused educational opportunity and a realistic pathway to a college degree for students, like Jay, with limited high-quality schooling options. Our model only works because of Comcast and other innovative, caring companies in our community.

Cristo Rey Philadelphia is proud to partner with Comcast. Together, we are shaping lives and building the workforce of tomorrow.

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