Fr. Bill Johnson, S.J. (left), Frank Crivello, Anthony Crivello and Andy Stith pose on the soccer field with a soccer ball presented to the Crivello family signed by the first Cristo Rey Jesuit team to play on the field, win on the field and become conference champions. (Submitted photo)

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School has just gotten closer to paying off its new $33 million National Avenue campus in Milwaukee — $1 million closer to be exact.

Earlier this month, Phoenix Investors and the Crivello Family Foundation announced the $1 million gift to Cristo Rey.

“It’s a blessing,” said Andrew Stith, president of the high school since 2014. “[T]he foundation’s gift was a natural outgrowth of the partnership Frank, his family and his business had with Cristo Rey over the past several years.”

In a press release, Crivello, chairman and founder of Phoenix Investors, said when he first heard about Cristo Rey in 2014, he was moved by its mission as a first-generation American.

Crivello and his family have been working with Cristo Rey Milwaukee since the beginning of the high school in 2015. They were involved in the Corporate Work Study Program, a partnership between Cristo Rey and Milwaukee companies that provides students with work experience and funding for their education.

When Cristo Rey Milwaukee outgrew its initial building in the renovated St. Florian Parish school building, Cristo Rey bought an 8-acre plot of land on National Avenue that would house the school.

Crivello’s donation will go toward the capital campaign that works to pay off the remaining debt for the land and building of the school, which was a $33 million project. Now, they are $6.2 million away from completing the campaign.

“My family has enjoyed the American dream,” Crivello said. “We are grateful to share our success with others so deserving of a chance like the one I, my brother, and sister had.”

As a result of Crivello’s gift and a token of appreciation, Cristo Rey’s athletic field has been named Phoenix Field. Stith called the name “emblematic of this campus,” as the land that the campus was built on used to be a grocery store and some of the materials from the store were used in the construction of the high school.

Stith is confident in the completion of the campaign and hopes that the Phoenix Investors and the Crivello Family Foundation’s gift will encourage other donors to help them complete their vision of community on the South Side of Milwaukee.

Stith said, “We really feel like we have brought new life to this particular parcel of land that had been lifeless prior to us being here and Phoenix Field is a part of that new life.”