Saint Viator High School launched its new Corporate Work Study Program this week, the same way any new job begins: with training.

The innovative program was designed to make a Catholic education more affordable for families with limited income. Essentially, the program places students in entry-level summer jobs at local corporations, where they will earn up to $3,000 toward tuition.

Students and their families gathered Wednesday for a training session led by Jill Bogaerts, office manager at Kelleher & Buckley. The suburban law firm was part of a pilot program last summer, which offered four students jobs at two law firms run by Saint Viator alumni, including Andy Kelleher ’86 and Dean Niro ’82 of Niro, Haller & Niro in Chicago.

“We’re committed to making a Saint Viator education available to kids at all income levels,” President Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V., said. “We’re also committed to cutting-edge ways to prepare kids for today’s professional world. This program keeps both those commitments.”

Jobs in the program are limited. Student selection was based on maturity level and financial need, with priority going to students in need of more than a half tuition scholarship. However, school officials believe the benefits go beyond the financial aid.

They point to students getting real world experience and being immersed in a professional environment, as well as beginning to build a network of business contacts before entering college.

This summer, 11 different companies are participating in the program by hiring Saint Viator students. They run the gamut, and students were placed, in part, by their interest.

They include: Lavelle Law and Journeys: The Road Home, both in Palatine; Kelleher & Buckley in North Barrington, Niro, Haller & Niro and Nippon Life Benefits, both in Chicago; Cashman Stahler Group in Lombard, Faith Community Homes and Village Bank & Trust, both in Arlington Heights; Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Itasca; Cubicle Ninjas in Glen Ellyn; and Rose Packing Company in Barrington.

Bart Hisgen, who formerly worked for Catholic Theological Union and for the Viatorian Community, is serving as coordinator of the program.