Cristo Rey Tampa is pleased to announce that Richard Gonzmart, president and CEO of Columbia Restaurant Corporation, received the Lightning Heroes grant on April, 25, 2015. Mr. Gonzmart donated $10,000 of this grant to the Cristo Rey Tampa High School. The school will provide an invaluable service to the Tampa area by transforming the lives of low income, inner city youth. The curriculum combines a faith-based, rigorous college preparatory education with an innovative Corporate Work Study Program. It will also have the lowest tuition of any private high school in Tampa. The school, housed on the grounds of Mary Help of Christians Center, is being viewed as a positive step in addressing Tampa Bay’s workforce gap.
Fr. Steve Ryan, Director of Mary Help of Christians, notes, “It’s exciting that Mr. Gonzmart, upon learning about Cristo Rey, gave the first big gift from the Tampa business community, pledging $100,000 in February. Richard also took on two teams of students as a corporate work study partner. Please know how blessed we are to have Richard Gonzmart in our corner.”
The group has already raised $3.5 million, anchored by a significant pledge from the Mary Help of Christians Foundation. Mr. Gonzmart’s donation is one of many that illustrate the broad support Cristo Rey has gained from the Tampa Bay business community.
The education model is, in part, funded by the students. Students are placed in entry-level positions at businesses and non-profits throughout the Tampa area. The salary earned by students will go towards the cost of their education. Not only are the students gaining a quality work experience, but they are networking with successful Tampa Bay companies. In addition to the fundraising efforts, the school’s feasibility committee must secure 35 jobs in the Tampa area. A total of 27 corporate work partners have pledged jobs, including Columbia Restaurant Corporation and multifamily owner-operator, Avesta Communities.
About Cristo Rey
Twenty eight schools operate under the Cristo Rey education model nationwide. These schools are dedicated to educating low income, under-severed students who may not otherwise have access to college preparatory education. An astonishing 100% of the Cristo Rey Network graduates are accepted into a 2-year or 4-year college program, including programs at higher institutions such as Yale, Columbia, Notre Dame, and MIT. The model has a proven track record of ending the cycle of poverty for many of its students.
Avesta is a rapidly growing apartment investment and management firm based in Tampa, Florida that engages in the acquisition, redevelopment, ownership, and operation of apartment communities serving the middle-income renter. Since its founding, we have acquired over 8,500 apartments throughout Florida and Texas, assembling a world-class team drawn from the best companies nationwide. Through superior management, Avesta creates lasting value in serving each of its stakeholders: employees, capital partners, vendors, communities, and most importantly, its residents.