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Richmond private school brings new hope to low-income students who dream of attending college

RICHMOND, Va. -- A private school education isn't cheap. On average, it can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars per year.

But a new Richmond school is helping to give all families the chance to get a college-prep education.

Cristo Rey Richmond High School opened its doors this year. Through partnering with Virginia businesses, they help provide laptops for each student and catered breakfast and lunch.

"The goal that we wanted to establish here is that when you walk into this place you know that you're here with a bigger purpose," principal Corey Taylor said. "The students are getting workforce training, they're getting a college preparatory curriculum, and they're also earning their tuition as they work."

Located at the former Benedectine High School in the Museum District, the school caters to students that come from families of low to moderate incomes who want a private education.

The school's 95 freshman students are predominantly people of color and come from Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, and even as far as Petersburg. They're also required to have jobs and participate in a corporate work-study program which helps pays part of their $12,000 annual tuition.

Despite the rigorous load, you won't find any complaints.

"It is worth it, because the learning is different and it's better for my future," says freshman Nehemiah Jordan. Her classmate Antonio Walker adds, "better opportunities. I get to work for a job so the job, I will be able when I grow up, that will be on my resume."

The school is part of a network of 36 other schools across country. Since 1996, their college acceptance rate is astonishing, to say the least.

"We've had about 16,000 graduates come through the Cristo Rey network, and among those 16,000 graduates, one hundred percent of them have been accepted into college.so that is a feat that is unrivaled," says Principal Taylor.

And it's that track record that already has the freshman thinking about graduating in 2023.

"I want to get in to college. I want to be a doctor. A cardiologist!" says Santiago Ocando. When ask what the college acceptance meant to Nehemiah Jordan she says, "that i can get into college and not have to worry about if I don't get accepted."

To have students believing they can succeed might be its greatest achievement. But Cristo Rey always wants their students to aim high.

"Just knowing that a student walks with a greater sense of purpose and greater sense of pride," says Taylor.

And we should note, no family is turned away because they can't afford the cost! Parents of the students do have to pay tuition. It's just based on a sliding scale, according to their financial income.

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