From left, Beneficial Bank Vice President of Lending Operations Merle Brown; Cristo Rey Admissions Coordinator Unique Saunders; Cristo Rey students Yohalis L., Mark H., Kelliann A. and David J.; and Beneficial Bank Vice President of Community Development Robert Juliano.

Four students from the new Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School didn’t just start another school year Sept. 4 – they also began working at the Center City headquarters of Beneficial Bank.

The four freshmen — Yohalis L., Kelliann A., Mark H. and David J. — are learning about accounting, lending and compliance, among other areas, and are gaining real-life job skills in the process.

Cristo Rey Philadelphia is a new independent college preparatory Catholic school for low-income students that helps build skills to succeed in college and the modern workplace. Based on a successful model used in 24 cities across the U.S., teams of four students work five days per month in partnering corporations, which provide them with invaluable work experience and subsidize approximately 60 percent of the cost of their education.

Beneficial Bank is a job partner for the school’s inaugural year, along with 19 other area corporations. The Beneficial Foundation contributed $30,000 for Cristo Rey to establish its innovative program in Philadelphia.

“Because Beneficial’s mission is to help customers do the right thing financially, we were pleased to have the opportunity to support this innovative educational initiative,” said Beneficial Bank President and CEO Gerry Cuddy. “It is especially rewarding for us to mentor such enthusiastic students, and to introduce them to the world of banking. This partnership also allows us to help train and contribute skilled, responsible workers to our region.”

Cristo Rey Philadelphia President John McConnell said, “Beneficial Bank is a terrific job partner for the Cristo Rey program. At Beneficial, our students receive great coaching from enthusiastic mentors. They challenge the students to learn valuable skills that will help them succeed in college and beyond. We are very grateful for Beneficial’s willingness to invest in the future of our community.”