Michigan Future announces plans for three new schools

Michigan Future, Inc., through its Michigan Future Schools program, announced last week grants of $2.4 million to open three new innovative high schools that will prepare Detroit students for college success.

“The ability to start from scratch gives us a better opportunity for student success for Detroit pupils,” said Michigan Future president and co-founder Lou Glazer. “If children in the Detroit Public Schools do not succeed, then we as Michigan do not succeed.”

The schools will open to incoming freshmen in the fall of 2012 and add a grade per year. At full enrollment the schools will serve grades 9-12 with a maximum of 500 students.

The new schools include the YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy, the Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy for Social Justice and the Schools for the Future.

The YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy will be committed to creating a holistic school culture that will support students’ high academic achievement while providing resources, mentors and experiences beyond the classroom. It will be the third component of a complete K-12 school operated by the Y.

“Every parent should feel comfortable and confident in where they send their child to school and we feel that they will be comfortable and confident knowing their child is at the Detroit Leadership Academy getting a superior education,” said Shawn Hill, YMCA Detroit Leadership Academy principal and school superintendent.

Founded by the Detroit Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy for Social Justice will offer a rigorous college preparatory curriculum centered on the organization’s mission. The curriculum has an emphasis on social justice for instruction and mentoring.

“The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Foundation of Detroit is the first African American sorority or fraternity to open a school,” said Edythe Hayden Friley, chairperson of the Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy. “With the Preparatory Academy we will fundamentally change the educational landscape in Detroit.”

Boston-based Schools for the Future and Detroit’s Black Family Development are joining forces for the Schools for the Future, which will aim to enable students who have been previously retained at least twice and who have severe academic skills gaps to successfully graduate from high school within 3-5 years.

“We believe that the existence of good teachers is not enough,” Black Family Development executive director Alice Thompson said. “It will take the commitment of the teachers along with parents and the community to make sure our children succeed.”

These schools join three innovative institutions that opened this fall through Michigan Future Schools grants, including Dr. Ben Carson School of Science and Medicine, Detroit Collegiate Preparatory and Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

All the Michigan Future Schools institutions were chosen based on quality, not governance. The schools were selected through a competitive process open to traditional public, public charter and private schools.

All schools MFS share several characteristics:

  • Open to all Detroit students.
  • Small, no more than 500 students
  • Commitment to high standards: 85% of seniors graduate, 85% of high school graduates go on to college, and 85% of college students earn degrees.
  • College transition and college success counselors to help students  go to and stay in college
  • If applicable, union agreements that allow for opening hiring, no “bumping,” and no work rules that interfere with innovative teaching and learning.

These schools help fulfill Michigan Future Schools’ goal to revitalize Detroit’s failing education system by opening 35 new high schools in eight years. This effort is a key part of the commitment by the Excellent Schools Detroit coalition to open 70 outstanding new schools by 2020.

Michigan Future Schools is about creating new quality high schools at scale.  To date, four Michigan foundations – The Skillman Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the McGregor Fund – have committed $13.95 million over five years to the MFS initiative.

To learn more about Michigan Future Schools, visit http://michiganfuture.org/schools.