For more than twenty-five years as an educator, I have witnessed severe educational, economic and social dysfunction plaguing our inner cities. We bear witness to the startling statistics that reveal the depth of the crisis affecting our nation's young people, especially young men of color.
The Eagle Academy Foundation was founded to demonstrate that a clearly defined educational approach with a methodology designed to engage young men, could enable inner city young men not just to survive in school, but to thrive. We represent a new vanguard of educational success, linking private resources and know-how to the public school system. This is done with the support of family members, committed school staff, and mentors from the community.
Since our first incoming group of 9th graders graduated from our flagship Eagle Academy in the Bronx in 2008, our students' impressive educational attainment and rising graduation rates demonstrates the success of our model. For many of our students, their achievement is even more impressive given that they entered Eagle Academy scoring well below grade level in language arts and mathematics.
Since 2004, the Eagle Academy Foundation has raised and directed more than $7 million toward achieving our mission. Yet, every day at the Eagle Academy Foundation, we ask ourselves, how can we have greater impact in changing the negative educational outcomes for inner-city young men.
Here are two things we are committed to:
- Creating public schools that educate only young men
Today, there are Eagle Academy public schools located in three boroughs of New York City and one slated to open in Newark, NJ in 2012. We create each school by adding a grade every year until it becomes a fully developed Eagle Academy with students enrolled from 6th -12th grades. Our vision is to provide a first rate public education to over 4,000 young men each year.
- Training educators in co-educational schools to learn best practices for engaging young men
In 2009, we launched our Professional Development Institute to facilitate systemic change to public education for inner city boys on a national basis. In just its second year, the Institute has already fundamentally changed the national opinion on the future of America's urban youth and enabled Eagle Academy to have a greater impact on public education solutions at a national level. This happens through an all-hands on deck approach which links teachers, parents, principals, after school and Saturday programs, and mentoring.
Many thanks to our supporters -- the men and women, corporations, and foundations that believe in the Eagle Academy and our model for educating inner city young men. We acknowledge One Hundred Black Men, Inc. for the vision of creating the original Eagle Academy and for launching The Eagle Academy Foundation. Special thanks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York City Department of Education for supporting us in creating our network of public schools and to Mayor Cory Booker for inviting us to expand to Newark, New Jersey.
There is still so much more work to do. At the Eagle Academy Foundation, we will continue to figure out how best to serve the educational and social needs of inner city young men. We ask that you join us as part of the solution.
David C. Banks