With Chicago in the national spotlight for tragic teen shootings, uplifting news continues to come out of the city’s Urban Prep Academy.
For the fourth year in a row, all seniors from its Englewood campus and the seniors from the inaugural graduating class at its West campus, 167 African-American males, have been accepted to a four-year college or university, the school announced today.
The student body (85% of Urban Prep students come from low-income families, and many start Urban Prep at least two grade levels behind.) continues to exceed expectations in a city where fewer than 40 percent of African American males finish high school.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Urban Prep Academies’ founder and CEO Tim King , students, faculty and parents for a special assembly recognizing seniors who have received their acceptance letters and exchanged the red uniform ties they have worn since their enrollment at Urban Prep for red-and-gold striped ties signifying their college-bound status.
“The students of the Urban Prep Academies have not only cleared the academic bar, they have raised the bar for all of us,” said Emanuel. “Their accomplishment today is a ringing example that when you have a teacher in the classroom that is committed, a principal in the school who is accountable and adults at home that are involved, any student from any neighborhood or background in Chicago can achieve the dream of graduating and going to college.”
As of today, the members of Urban Prep’s class of 2013 have been accepted to over 115 different four-year colleges and universities, including: Connecticut College, Cornell University, Morehouse College, Howard University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This year, for the first time, students have also been admitted to Dartmouth College, Kenyon College, The University of Notre Dame, and The University of Pennsylvania. Students are still awaiting decisions from many other colleges and universities.
In total, this year’s seniors have been awarded more than $6 million in scholarships and grants to date, and seven students are Gates Millennium Scholar finalists (winners will be named later this month).
At the event, Urban Prep also announced a $150,000 donation from the Citi Foundation for Urban Prep’s Alumni Affairs program, also known as Project GOLD, which works to support Urban Prep’s approximately 300 graduates enrolled in college.
“Entering college is an exciting and also a challenging time in anyone’s life,” said Helen Hammond-Redding , senior vice president and Illinois state director, Citi Community Development. “However, many high school grads, like those from Urban Prep, are the first in their families to do so and many of them, especially African-American males, do not receive the ongoing support they need to ensure successful college careers. Project GOLD will train and support them as they strive to earn their college degrees.”
Additionally, Urban Prep’s Alumni Affairs Office tracks the number of alumni from its graduating classes who enroll in college. Urban Prep alumni from the classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012 have a 96 percent college enrollment rate—the highest of any Chicago Public School (CPS) – that exceeds national averages. Urban Prep alumni are also persisting or, staying in, college at record rates: 83 percent of Urban Prep graduates persisted in college compared to only 70 percent for CPS and 42 percent for African-American males nationally.
“When we founded Urban Prep, we wanted to increase the number of African-American males earning college degrees,” said Tim King , founder and CEO, Urban Prep Academies. “Our record college acceptance, college enrollment, and college persistence rates demonstrate that we’re changing the game. Consider this fact: one in twenty Black males from CPS enrolling in college since we graduated our first class is an Urban Prep alumnus—and that’s just when we had one campus, now we have three. Our schools, our teachers, and our students are making a real difference in how Black males are perceived in our country. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Urban Prep will host commencement exercises for this year’s graduating seniors on June 7, 2013 at the UIC Forum.