Rev. John Foley will speak about the success of the Cristo Rey Network, a national association of 12 high schools that provide quality, Catholic, college preparatory education to urban young people who live in communities with limited educational options. Ninety-two percent of students are racial minorities. In 2006, the network's four-year dropout rate was just six percent, and 96 percent of graduates enrolled in a two- or four-year college.
A Chicago native, Father Foley entered the Society of Jesus in 1954. From 1961 to 1995, he served the Jesuit missions in Peru, working primarily in education, where he served as president of two Jesuit K-12 schools.
Foley returned to Chicago in 1995 to collaborate in establishing Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, a low-income area largely populated by Mexican immigrants. He was named president of the school in 1996 and served for eight years. During his tenure, Foley oversaw the effort to establish the school and the construction of 150,000 square feet of classroom and recreation space and raised more than $26 million, leaving the high school with a $2 million endowment. More importantly, he established the tradition and spirit of a school that has become a national model.
In January 2005, Foley assumed the presidency of the Cristo Rey Network and is responsible for managing its day-to-day programs and activities.
The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) has announced that Foley will receive the Seton Award in 2007, given to individuals whose service has had a positive impact on Catholic education. He has also received an honorary Doctorate in Education from Georgetown University, was featured in Fast Company in April 2006, and was named in Newsweek's "Who's Next" for 2007. In partnership with St. Martin de Porres, Cleveland's Cristo Rey Network school.