In 1996 Father John Foley launched the first Cristo Rey High School in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. It implemented a rigorous college preparatory curriculum with an innovative Corporate Work Study Program whereby students work five days each month in an entry-level job at a professional company, with the fee for their work being directed to underwrite tuition costs. The Cristo Rey Network (CRN) was founded in 2001 in order to franchise the model nationally. There are now 37 CRN schools serving more than 13,000 exclusively low-income students nationwide. The Drexel Fund has supported the growth and development of four Cristo Rey schools:
- Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School opened in 2014 into a facility with capacity for 400 students. In the fall of 2017, the school moved into a new, permanent facility that can house its full capacity of 550 students.
- Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee opened in 2015 into a facility with capacity for 400 students. In the fall of 2020, the school will move into a new, permanent facility that can house its full capacity of 500 students.
- Cristo Rey Oklahoma City Catholic High School opened in fall 2018 and will reach a capacity of 400 9-12th grade students in 2021-22.
- Cristo Rey St. Viator College Preparatory High School opened in fall 2019 and will reach a capacity of 500 9-12th grade students in 2022-23.