Cristo Rey Atlanta Officially Opens New Downtown Building

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Cristo Rey Atlanta celebrated the grand opening of their new 88,000 square-foot Downtown facility with the help of several high-profile guests, including Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Governor Nathan Deal.

“I want you all to know that as a city, we continue to support you, we continue to cheer you on and we continue to await your leadership,” Mayor Bottoms said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Because you are the future of our great city. You are the example that we want all of our communities to model after.”

In early 2017, Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc., Invest Atlanta’s certified Community Development Entity, closed an $11 million New Markets Tax Credits transaction to help Cristo Rey Atlanta complete the renovations of their new building. Raza Development Fund and SunTrust Bank also provided NMTC allocations.

“Invest Atlanta has done so much work with all of our partners to make sure that we are here today,” added Mayor Bottoms. “On your toughest days, please remember there’s a city that stands behind you, a city that stands with you, there’s a city awaiting your future.”

Cristo Rey Atlanta (CRA) is an independent affiliate of the Cristo Rey Network of 32 schools nationally. The CR network serves students of limited means, most whom are Hispanic or African-American, and combines a challenging college preparatory curriculum with extracurricular activities and an innovative Corporate Work Study Program. CRA was previously leasing its campus, serving nearly 400 students from grades 9-11. The new facility will allow them to accept an incoming freshman class and serve 520 total students, with the capacity to grow enrollment to 600 in the future.

The campus also provides CRA with resources that were previously unavailable, such as a gymnasium, assembly space, music and arts space, and their own kitchen. The $27 million project is located on Piedmont Avenue in a central location near multiple MARTA stops and bus lines to maximize the area that can be served by the school. The project is anticipated to retain 42 and create approximately 22 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) positions.

Last year, Cristo Rey partnered with 100 Atlanta businesses to place every student in an office work-study job while completing their academic studies. CRA exclusively serves Atlanta’s economically disadvantaged students of all faiths by opening the door to excellence in higher education, the workforce, community citizenship and Catholic values. Religion is not a criteria for admission, and 48% of the student body is non-Catholic. Low family income is the number one qualifying criterion for CRA students. The average household income for CRA families is $30,500 (no household income exceeds $15,000 per dependent). 98% of CRA students qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program.

The academic rigor and innovative work-study program has helped 100 percent of Cristo Rey graduates earn college acceptance since 1996. In most cases, these students will be the first person in their extended family to go to college, providing them with a path to opportunity. Across the CR Network, students—95% of whom are first generation college students—complete college at a rate over 2.5 times that of their non-Cristo Rey peers in the same income cohort.  For the class of 2018, CRA projects that 70% of its graduates will complete a bachelor’s degree within 5 years, or nearly 5 times the average rate for low-income high school graduates.

Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc. (AEMI) offers service providers like Cristo Rey flexible financing to support catalytic projects that serve low-income residents. In November 2016, AEMI received a $50 million NMTC allocation from the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Besides Cristo Rey, AEMI provided NMTC allocation to several other important projects in 2017, including the Grady Hospital Women’s and Infants’ Center, the Boys & Girls Club Innovation and Expression Studio (TIES), the YMCA headquarters, and Civic Impact Loans.