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Giving Hope to Kids Heading Back to School

NEWARK, N.J. — More than 300 students at Christ the King Preparatory School are at risk of falling behind in their education, their careers, and their futures.

In this urban area, where 40 percent of students depend on school-provided meals and are not promised supper in the evening, access to a computer and internet service at home is often non-existent. This makes completing homework assignments, looking for jobs and applying for college nearly impossible.

This September, FriarWorks is aiming to give these students the educational opportunities they deserve by raising $10,000 in order to purchase 25 new Chromebook laptops. FriarWorks, which shares the stories of people who receive life-changing services from Holy Name Province ministries, is overseen by HNP’s Office of Development.

“The mission of Christ the King Prep is to prepare these kids, many of whom are economically disadvantaged, for college,” said David Convertino, OFM, executive director of the HNP Office of Development. “And in a world where computer skills are one of the most vital skill sets in the workforce, our friars and faculty are met with a huge challenge: how can we help educate our kids who have no laptops or who have outdated, slow or broken laptops?”

The students at Christ the King Prep are part of the Cristo Rey Network, a nationwide educational approach to provide the urban poor with a Catholic high school education. Once a week, students leave the classrooms and work at locations in downtown Newark, N.J., the nearby suburbs, or Manhattan, N.Y. They are paid a stipend that helps pay for their schooling and, in the process, they learn skills that are valuable in the workforce.

Many of the Christ the King’s students come from poverty-stricken homes. Some literally live out of their family’s car. One student was forced to find shelter beneath a highway overpass after she and her mother were evicted from their apartment.

“We are trying to help our students gain confidence,” said Robert Sandoz, OFM, president of Christ the King. “They have a broken-down sense of themselves. The issue is poverty; it is a grinding, corrosive poverty. They live with this feeling of vulnerability because they are so poor.”

People who wish to help give these students a chance to succeed may submit their donation online.

“Without access to these computers, many will not gain typing skills, understand proper email etiquette, have knowledge of basic software or search engines,” said David. “These computers will help them get a good education.”

More information about this initiative and similar projects can be found on FriarWorks.org.

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