Partnership Brings Southwest Detroit High School Students to Marygrove

Detroit, Michigan, UNITED STATES

DETROIT, Jan. 21, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Thursday, Jan. 22, approximately 58 Detroit Cristo Rey High School (DCRHS) students, along with their parents, will meet on the campus of Marygrove College to be oriented into a dual enrollment program that will help them earn college credit when they become seniors in the fall of 2015.

The partnership, which is formally called "Early College for Future Leaders," is aimed at preparing Detroit Cristo Rey seniors with the skills to succeed in college, and was inspired by local businessman Frank Venegas, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Detroit-based Ideal Group. Venegas was instrumental in the growth of Cristo Rey, and his love of the students has led him to his latest venture, helping Cristo Rey students get ready for college.

The program brings in over 50 seniors each week to Marygrove's campus, Monday through Thursday. Students take humanities and math courses taught by Marygrove professors and are in class alongside Marygrove students. This provides Cristo Rey students with opportunities to not only earn free college credit, but helps equip them for their freshman year through real college experiences.

Venegas' idea to send Cristo Rey students to Marygrove is based on the close connection he feels to its students. He also saw a need to help support students who are often the first in their families to attend college. Higher education is a new experience for many students' families—some find the process of preparing for college difficult and scary. Sending students to Marygrove gives these students the tools they need to be better prepared.

"Frank comes from a place that has a deep love for the community and an amazing depth of commitment to Detroit," said Marygrove President Dr. David J. Fike. "His enthusiasm is infectious and his idea was a great one, so we committed to make it happen. In developing the program, we took a conscious developmental approach consistent with best practices in education, and specially designed courses with these students in mind. We are focused on giving them the opportunity to hone their college skills, keep them prepared, and orient them to paths of study."

Dual-enrollment programs are a cost-effective way to earn college credit while still in high school, but Marygrove and Detroit Cristo Rey have an innovative approach to the current paradigm. "This isn't just an introduction to the college catalog, or a way for students to pile up college credits. We are immersing them in the college experience," Fike explained.

Now in its second year, the program has proven successful. In fact, seven students who participated in the program last semester are currently enrolled at Marygrove College and enrollment is up for the winter semester as well. Additionally, the College has expanded its curriculum and the students are pleased with their progress.

Karina Cebrero-Moreno, a former DCRHS student who took advantage of the dual-enrollment program and is currently a full-time student at Marygrove, has described the program as a "huge blessing," one that challenged her, helped make the transition from high school to college much easier, and allowed her to get ahead. "As a dual-enrollment student, I was lucky because I was able to form relationships with Marygrove professors while I was still in high school," said Cebrero-Moreno. "I got to know them; I got to know the students, so once I became a Marygrove student I didn't feel alone. I wasn't lost in my classes and I already knew where I wanted to go with my education."

Although DCRHS, located in southwest Detroit, educates students from forty zip codes, the student population is predominantly Hispanic. Venegas, with an acute cultural knowledge of his community, understands how significant family is to DCRHS students; some are reluctant to go off to college and leave their families to pursue higher education. "Marygrove is a perfect fit for these kids," Venegas says. "Family is important to them. They can stay at home, work at home, help at home, and go to school locally, all while earning a college degree."


Founded in 1979, the Ideal Group employs nearly 500 people with annual revenues approaching $250 million. The Ideal Group consists of seven companies including, Ideal Contracting, Ideal Setech, Ideal Setech Share-The-Spare, Ideal Shield, Ideal Surplus Sales and newly formed Ideal Utility Supply. Ideal is a ten time General Motors Supplier of the Year, has received multiple safety awards and is a member of the Michigan Minority Supplier Diversity Council (MMSDC), Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MHCC) and the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. Located in Southwest Detroit, the Ideal Group believes in taking care of the community in which it resides. Using this philosophy, Ideal Group works with non-profits in Southwest Detroit including Detroit Cristo Rey, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (DHDC), LA SED, Ser Metro, Southwest Environmental Vision (SDEV), and private projects such as Cadillac Urban Gardens on Merritt and Scarcyny Park & Gardens. For more information, visit


Detroit Cristo Rey High School is a coed Catholic high school that provides high-quality college preparatory education to students from economically disadvantaged families in Detroit. The school is sponsored by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Congregation of St. Basil. Cristo Rey utilizes a longer school day and year, academic assistance, and counseling to prepare students with a broad range of academic abilities for college. All students at Cristo Rey participate in a work study program through which they finance the majority of the cost of their education, gain real world job experience, grow in self-confidence, realize the relevance of their education, and look forward to a brighter future.


Founded by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) in 1905, Marygrove College is an independent liberal arts college and a Catholic institution of higher learning. The College's commitment to the city of Detroit comprises an institutional mission and vision for developing urban leaders. The main campus is situated on 53 wooded acres in northwest Detroit.

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