Celebrity Causes: Jalen Rose Leadership Academy

By , Guest Celebrity Contributor

Detroit schools are in crisis. Students are discouraged, families feel helpless and teachers are overwhelmed. According to a recent study conducted at the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, only 31.9% of Detroit's public high school students graduate in four years. The study found an even lower graduation rate for boys enrolled in Detroit Public Schools: just 25%, compared with 39% of girls - a discrepancy that mirrors national trends. Only 12.1% of the adult population in Detroit has earned a bachelor's degree of higher (US Census 2005-2009). It's time for a solution, and that's why I founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA).   

JRLA is a 9-12 college-prep charter high school on the Northwest side of Detroit. Scheduled to open in September 2011, the Academy will enroll 120 ninth grade students this fall, followed by an additional freshman class each subsequent year with a total enrollment of 480 students. Detroit area students will receive a leadership-focused education based upon real-world, project-based experiences within the career context of sports and entertainment.

This high school will ensure students receive extensive college exposure and course opportunities through a partnership with the University of Detroit Mercy. Immersed in the culture of college, students will take a minimum of three university courses as upper classmen to ensure a seamless transition for college entry.  JRLA is a recipient of a Michigan Future Schools initiative grant, which comes with the expectation that 85% of students graduate from high school, enroll in college, and earn a college degree.  Using a grade 9-16 mentor model, the plan at JRLA is to exceed those standards.  

The mission of JRLA is to provide a leadership-focused experience within a high-performing high school that engages and inspires Detroit youth to achieve at the rigorous level necessary to ultimately graduate with a college degree. Such a mission is driven by a critical and timely vision: Education in Detroit must play a critical role in transforming the community into a more vibrant intellectual and economic landscape.

JRLA will lead that transformation by providing a quality education within the career context of sports and entertainment; ultimately, educating and preparing students to make a substantial contribution to the growth and revitalization of the city of Detroit.

In a small-school setting, students will be engaged through individualized learning, prepared to excel on the ACT, and challenged to achieve at the rigorous level necessary to earn a college degree. All students will receive laptop computers, be paired with a student mentor from the University of Detroit Mercy, and earn credit for a minimum of 3 college courses prior to graduation.  Low student to teacher ratios (20:1 and 10:1 in English & Math) and a safe learning environment will be provided at this open enrollment tuition-free charter high school.  

As a Detroit native and Founder of JRLA, I have assembled a team of educational experts and community leaders to turn my dream into a reality. I attended the University of Michigan and earned a college degree and am eager to help Detroit youth achieve that same goal. I am part of a tremendous planning team establishing a break-the-mold cutting edge curriculum and truly believe we are on the forefront of an entire urban educational transformation. For more information and ways to support JRLA, please visit our site.

To help support the school, I have donated one of the last four 1969 Dodge Chargers from The Dukes of Hazzard TV show for auction. Bids will be accepted for the auction until approximately noon on Friday, May 27. It is a "No Reserve" auction, with a starting bid of $45,000. Please consider participating.

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Jalen Rose is currently an ESPN/ABC studio analyst and 13-year NBA veteran. Mr. Rose brings to the Academy his reputation, his commitment to philanthropy, and his passion to give back to Detroit. A graduate of Detroit Southwestern High School, Mr. Rose attended the University of Michigan where he was…

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