Mayor Richard M. Daley today praised the first senior class of Urban Prep Academy, the nation’s first all-boys public charter high school and comprised entirely of African-American students, on achieving a 100 percent acceptance rate to a four-year college or university.
“I am honored to be here today to celebrate the accomplishments of 107 very outstanding young men,” Mayor Daley said during a celebration ceremony at Urban Prep Academies’ Englewood Campus, 6201 S. Stewart Ave. “Urban Prep Academy serves as an inspiration to us all and demonstrates that we are at a turning point in public education in Chicago.”
Since accepting its first class in the fall of 2006, Urban Prep sought to dramatically increase the Chicago Public Schools system’s average college acceptance rate of 52.5 percent. The average graduation rate for Black males in CPS schools is 41.3 percent.
To achieve this goal, Urban Prep offered a unique culture and curriculum. Students take a rigorous college prep courses, including required double periods of English, spend about 72,000 more minutes in class over four years than traditional CPS schools, follow a strict code of conduct, and participate in a variety of activities focused on building the skills needed to succeed in college and in life.
As a result, all 107 seniors have been accepted to more than 50 schools including Connecticut College, Denison College, Howard University, Morehouse College, Northwestern University, Rutgers University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When the students entered Urban Prep as freshmen in 2006, only four percent were reading at grade level.
“Each and every student here today represents the ‘I Will’ spirit of Chicago,” said Mayor Daley. “Today is a great day for Chicago Public Schools.”
The Mayor also commended the school’s first graduating class on receiving more than $2.2 million in scholarships and grants. “Each and every one of you has worked tremendously hard to earn every penny from these awards,” he told the students.
Despite Urban Prep’s success, the Mayor acknowledged that there’s much more work to be done before every child in Chicago reads at grade level, graduates high school and goes on to some form of higher education.
“But, with the continued commitment of every student in every school in Chicago to do his or her best, and with the support of parents, teachers, businesses and the taxpayers of Chicago, we will continue to build a world class education system and to help prepare our young people to achieve all they hope for in life,” Mayor Daley said.
Urban Prep Academies was founded in 2002 by a group of African-American education, business and civic leaders, led by Tim King, who wanted to improve the educational opportunities available to urban boys. In 2005, this non-profit organization was approved under Chicago’s Renaissance Schools Fund to open Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men—Englewood Campus. Urban Prep Charter Academy is the country’s first and the state of Illinois’ only charter public high school for boys.