Letter From The Editor: Chicago’s Urban Prep Schools

Saturday, June 12, 2010 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

By Claude Julian | ARCHIVES

Stunner Baby Magazine is proud to shine the academy spotlight on Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies for young black men in Chicago.  This revolutionary academy juggernaut has transformed many young black teenagers on a righteous and educational path of success. All too often our 10:00pm news is filled with senseless murders of our young black teenagers that it makes me sick in my stomach.  Urban Prep Academies is making a major impact in changing the mind, heart, and spirit of these young men.

Urban Prep Academies is a nonprofit organization that operates a network of free open-enrollment public all-male college-preparatory high schools in Chicago. It has its headquarters in the 420 N. Wabash building in the Near North Side. Founded in 2002, and receiving its first Charter approval from Chicago Public Schools in 2005, it operates the nation’s first all-male public charter high school. The network opened a second campus in 2009 and a third in August 2010. The mission of Urban Prep is to provide a comprehensive, high-quality college-preparatory education to young men that result in graduates succeeding in college.  85% of Urban Prep students are low-income and all are African-American. Let’s take a quick history lesson.

In 2002, a group of motivated African-American civic, business, and education leaders, organized by former Hales Franciscan High School President Tim King, determined to establish a new high school in Chicago focused on providing a strong, college-preparatory high school option for boys in under-served African-American communities. African-American males had been, and continue to be, the lowest-performing demographic in Chicago Public Schools. A University of Chicago study published in 2006 reported that only one in 40 African-American boys in Chicago Public Schools eventually graduates from a 4-year university.

The Chicago Board of Education approved Urban Prep Academies’ charter application in 2005, and Urban Prep opened its first school, Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men — Campus, the subsequent September. It is the first charter high school for boys in the country and currently enrolls 550 students in grades 9-12. Urban Prep’s second school opened in the East Garfield Park community in 2009, and currently enrolls only 9th graders. Urban Prep’s third campus opened in the fall of 2010 in the South Shore community. Urban Prep plans to open a total of six schools in the Chicago area serving 3,000 students in grades 9 to 12. Currently, approximately 85% of Urban Prep students are low-income and all are African-American.

In 2010, the organization made national headlines upon the announcement that 100% of the seniors in the schools’ first graduating class had been admitted to a four-year college or university.

“Admission to Urban Prep is non-selective and determined through a lottery system. Enrollment is open to all matriculating 9th grade boys living in Chicago. Information on the lottery admission process is available on Urban Prep’s admissions webpage.”

Urban Prep has been the subject of many national and international news features. Virtually all local television news outlets in Chicago have profiled the schools, as have CNN and the 700 Club on their national broadcasts. Print media on the school has included pieces in the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Chicago Tribune, Ebony Magazine, Stunner Baby Magazine and The Guardian.  Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley visited the Englewood Campus to speak with students, and various national media outlets featured the school.The Chicago Tribune covered the story on its front page, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News all ran short segments on the senior class, and ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer profiled the school as it’s “Person of the Week.”

The school creed reads as follows:
- We believe.
– We are the young men of Urban Prep.
– We are college bound.
– We are exceptional-not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.
– We will not falter in the face of any obstacle placed before us.
– We are dedicated, committed and focused.
– We never succumb to mediocrity, uncertainty or fear.
– We never fail because we never give up.
– We make no excuses.
– We choose to live honestly, nonviolently and honorably.
– We respect ourselves and, in doing so, respect all people.
– We have a future for which we are accountable.
– We have a responsibility to our families, community and world.
– We are our brothers’ keepers.
– We believe in ourselves.
– We believe in each other.
– We believe in Urban Prep.

I would like to applaud the brilliant and stellar job all the staff at Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies.


Claude Julian

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