In 1996, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School opened in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, a Latino neighborhood of working-class families with very limited options for giving their children a high-quality education. Father John P. Foley, S.J. was the founder and first president, leading the new school in its groundbreaking Corporate Work Study Program. News of the remarkable success of the original Cristo Rey school spread to educators and others throughout the country and in 2000, the Cristo Rey Network was formed to facilitate replication of the school model and support all Cristo Rey schools. Today, 38 schools are in the Cristo Rey Network. Every school shares the mission of providing a college preparatory education to students with limited economic resources, uniquely integrating rigorous academic curricula with four years of professional work experience and support to and through college.
In early 2017 a Feasibility Study was launched to assess the need and support for Cristo Rey San Diego. With the help of many community volunteers and donors, the school opened in August 2020. Cristo Rey San Diego is the 37th school in the country and the 6th in California.