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AFTER MIGUEL COLON LOST HIS FATHER TO GUN VIOLENCE AT AGE THREE, HIS MOTHER FLED NEW YORK CITY TO SEEK A LIFE FOR HER CHILDREN UNSHACKLED BY TOO FAMILIAR CRIME. With few viable options, she settled in the poverty-stricken Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Trinidad. Miguel Colon might have fallen victim to gun violence that claimed his father or the street code that glamorizes fast cash of the drug trade like his now-incarcerated older brother or mired in hopelessness like many of his impoverished neighbors. T at might have been his story were it not for an unconventional high school that gives low-income, but determined and high- potential, youth a taste of what their fulfi lling future looks like. Today Miguel, a 16-year-

old 10th grader, maintains high academic marks while working fi ve days a month at the esteemed Jones Day law fi rm in the heart of the nation’s capital. Shepherding his cause is the Don Bosco Cristo Rey high school in Takoma Park; an institution that coordinates employment opportunities in the corporate world for disadvantaged student while helping them to carve out unlikely paths to college. “My mother liked [Don Bosco Cristo Rey] because of

the involvement between parents and staff . But I always wanted to get into law. I always wanted to go to NYU to study law,” says the son of Puerto Rican immigrants. “I know my future. You have to choose a life of meaning.” T e Catholic high school’s innovative, unorthodox

model enables 315 students to partially fund their educa- tion through corporate employment experience. Part of a nationwide network that consists of 25 Cristo Rey institu- tions, the Takoma Park school opened in 2007 to primarily



serve children from low-income families in Washington D.C., Prince George’s County (Maryland), and the vicin- ity. D.C. area law fi rms make up nearly a third of Don Bosco Cristo Rey’s 75 corporate sponsors. But students are employed across the corporate spectrum, from funeral home companies to mortgage giant Fannie Mae, largely in clerical positions that give them valuable, transferable skills. Founder and President Father Steve Shafran says keeping

these high-potential students on the right path literally and fi guratively means going with them on the journey. “We are in the car with the kid and the sponsors. We’re not driving the car [because we want them to] believe in themselves; … so often they’re told otherwise,” Shafran says. “But where you’re from shouldn’t dictate your future.” Don Bosco Cristo Rey replicates the work-study model



used in all Cristo Rey schools, while partnering locally with the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. and the Salesians of Don Bosco. Although corporate employ- ment is a fundamental aspect of the institu- tion’s philosophy and practice, the school curriculum adheres to Catholic school and Maryland state accred- itation standards. Don Bosco Cristo Rey boasts astonishing academic success rates.

Of the two classes to graduate from the institution in 2011 and 2012, 100 percent of students were accepted to college, landing admission to top-tier schools such as Georgetown and Pennsylvania State universities. “T is isn’t an institution where teachers come at 8

o’clock and leave at 3 o’clock and they’re done. On average, teachers here put in 70 to 80 hours a week. T ese teachers are an extremely committed group willing to work hard with students,” says this semester’s criminal justice and U.S. government teacher, Brian Brower, 25. “T e vast majority of kids that come here…they want to go to college. T eir parents want them to go to college. T at is the goal.” T e school has a multi-faceted outreach network aimed

at recruiting only those students driven by that goal. T e school spreads its message at community centers, events,


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