$6,039

That’s the per capita income of our 9th graders this year. It’s the lowest in the Cristo Rey Network, an organization that exclusively serves low-income students. The average income of our freshman families is $23,824, and most of the households include at least four people. $6,039 per person in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.

About two thirds of our students come from single families, so their mothers work at least one job, sometimes two, making under $12 per hour. Some get child support payments, but the checks often arrive late or not at all.

All of us who work and live in or near the great city of Boston complain about the high cost of living. High mortgage and rent payments, consumer debt, student loans, and the struggle to save money for our children’s college education can be overwhelming. But stretching $23,824 to feed, clothe and house a family of four is a challenge most of us could not meet. After a mom with a net pay of $375 a week pays the rent, utilities and transportation bills, how much is left when she gets to the grocery store?

That’s where our students come from, and they keep coming to Cristo Rey Boston because here they are loved, cared for, and supported. Their dreams, and their mothers’ dreams for them, are nurtured and realized. Like their mothers, they work hard, and they want something better for themselves and their families.

It is humbling to be in the presence of our families. They do more with less, and face adversity that most of us will never know.

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