Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep celebrated its 15th anniversary last year, and this year, even in the midst of the pandemic, administrators cheered as 100 percent of its graduating class was accepted into “at least one selective bachelor’s program.”

However, with the economic downturn as a result of the pandemic, many of these students had to make college choices that were affordable and closer to home.

The school and its model were the subject of a news segment on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight broadcast, where President Preston Kendall addressed concerns over how its work study program would survive with the restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

“We’re staying close to our business partners because many of them are not quite sure what the re-opening of the workplace will look like,” Kendall said. “It’s a little bit of a wait and see game right now.”

Still, Kendall describes the work study program as the “secret sauce” that drives the success of the school.

“It’s a critical element in our educational model,” he says. “So much of it is the relationships our students are building, the social capital that they’re building in the workplace.”

Yet, even with all of these current challenges, President Preston Kendall describes the school as “life-changing.”

Viatorians agree. Back in 2004, they were among the endorsing religious communities to financially back Cristo Rey St. Martin when it opened.

Viatorians continue to support the school and its mission of providing a college prep education to students and families of limited means. In fact, Viatorians believe so fully in the mission, they opened their own Cristo Rey St. Viator College Preparatory last year.