By Stephanie VanderVelden
Urban Prep, an all male charter school geared toward African American students did it again. Every single one of their graduating seniors is going to college. For the second year in a row, the Chicago based charter school has been the catalyst to a successful future for over a hundred young men.
Urban Prep was founded four years ago, in Englewood, and provides alternative education to young men from Chicago’s most disenfranchised neighborhoods. 85 percent of students live below the poverty line, and most came in reading below their respective grade level. The first class of seniors graduated in June, 2010, and all 107 seniors went to college.
While skepticism was abundant in the beginning, it is clear that Urban Prep knows what they’re doing. Urban Prep founder Tim King assures that the key to their success lies in dedication to hard work, and perseverance. College acceptance letters line the hallway walls, providing competition, and encouragement to younger classes.
Students are aware of expectations upon admittance to the school. Uniforms consisting of a blazer and a red tie are worn every day. A creed proclaiming student success is recited daily, and students are consistently reminded that their success is determined by their own motivation and hard work. Upon admittance to college, students are given a striped tie. That is the day the young men work towards.
One student this year was accepted to 21 colleges, and received $719,000 in scholarships. The schools among his choices include, Harvard, Yale and Wheaton College. Not only are these young men being accepted to college, they are being recruited by some of the best higher education institutions in the United States.
The rigorous education model is working. Two additional campuses have been opened in Chicago and plans to reproduce the formula in other cities is in motion.