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Supporting the leaders of tomorrow: Cristo Rey Work Study Program

November 12, 2020

By giving students access to work environments underrepresented in their communities, we can help them enter careers they may not have considered

For the last 14 years, Stantec’s Chicago office has partnered with the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School through the Cristo Rey Work Corporate Study Program (CWSP). The high school provides college preparatory education to young people living in urban communities with limited educational options. By providing students early access to professional environments typically underrepresented in their communities and equipping them with social and technical acumen, we can help students enter and excel at careers they may not have otherwise considered.

CWSP prepares students from diverse backgrounds for industries that are increasingly seeking more diversity. During the school year, we employ up to four Cristo Rey students on a part-time basis in our Chicago office. They provide various administrative assistance to our staff, including printing, filing, and proposal support. The students we sponsor earn post-graduation job experience, allowing them to earn a portion of their high school tuition while gaining valuable experience and cultivating a strong network of professional relationships.

We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the students involved. On several instances, students have requested that their siblings be placed with us, and in one instance we had three siblings come through the program. One student has maintained a working relationship with Stantec for more than 11 years—originally joining us as a freshman at Cristo Rey, she has worked with us throughout her high school, undergraduate, and graduate university degrees.

The impact of this program is evident: Cristo Rey students are three times more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree by age 24 compared to the total low-income population in the United States. Currently, 75% of Cristo Rey graduates have either earned a degree or are on track to do so. Students who have graduated through our involvement in CWSP have taken up careers in law enforcement, criminal justice, finance, teaching, accounting, and architecture.

Long-term support for students from diverse, low-income areas is imperative for the future of STEM careers and other professional industries. By participating in programs like CWSP, Stantec is committed to communities and creating equity in education and career opportunities.

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