After 13 NBA seasons, Jalen Rose wanted to use his celebrity, considerable income from the NBA and his commitment to helping youth to uplift his hometown of Detroit. To that end, the former baller, now an NBA analyst for ESPN co-founded a charter school, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit.
It opened in 2011, with an initial enrollment of 120 ninth graders, it is tuition-free and partnered with the University of Detroit Mercy. The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy features an extended school day and a longer school year.
“We’re committed to give a quality public education to young men and young women whose families can’t afford for them to go to private school or even move to communities where the schools get more funding,” Rose told The Tom Joyner Morning Show. “For example, if you live in West Bloomfield, a student in public education gets over 10,000 per.
In Detroit, it’s $7200 per. Do the math. That’s why we don’t have the state of the art facilities I’m trying to establish and that’s why we have an inequity with those that are trying to compete with their counterparts in the suburbs. “
Rose says that although he’s contributed personally to the school, along with his Jalen Rose Foundation, which has helped 40 kids to go to college, he still needs help. At his alma mater, the University of Michigan, his scholarship endowment has sent 3 kids to college. He says his charter school has committed parents and students, 95% of whom attend school everyday. But of course, finances are always an issue and Rose says he needs $5 million to truly establish a state of the art facility.
“The only way to turn around the fortunes of our young men and young women is through education, especially when 40% don’t graduate these days. Public education shouldn’t only be defined by your area code or zip code. I’m fortunate enough that I’ve had the success you describe and my kid can go to a private school. I went to public school growing up.“
Rose has also worked with American Federation for Children which assists parents with getting into charter schools or getting vouchers for them. Charter schools are not funded by the state for their facility, so Rose faces a shortfall with establishing his school as one of the top schools in the area.
“How does a University of Michigan get its funding? From donors or tuition,” Rose says. “If you have a student base that can’t pay that, that’s where it’s important for you to fundraise and that’s one of the things that’s never in the conversation. We need to level the playing field for low-income families. A lot of them use charter schools or vouchers to attend the quality public or private schools of their choice. This one-size fits all education is a thing of the past.”
For more information and to donate to the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, click here.