The Eagle Academy Foundation is opening a new all boys’ school in Harlem, The Eagle Academy for Young Men in September.
The Eagle Academy School will take residents in the building on Edgecombe Avenue that currently housing the Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School, which will be phased out class by class until 2016.
“The school will actually open in July,” said David Banks, President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation. “We spend the month of July with incoming students for our summer bridge program. We do a host of activities to get the young men inculcated with the culture of the school.”
Students will be academically assessed during the summer to help teachers prepare for the school year. “We just kind of get a head start. By the time they show up in September, they can hit the ground running,” Banks added.
The Eagle Academy School will start with about 85 sixth graders. After its first inaugural year, the school will add another grade level yearly until it is grades 6-12. The school will eventually grow to almost 600 young men.
“Harlem is historically the epic-center for Black America,” said Banks. “It would be tough to do schools all over and not in Harlem. Besides, there is a tremendous need in Harlem, especially for our Black men.”
The first Eagle Academy School was opened in the South Bronx in 2004. It became the first all boys’ school to open in the city in nearly 30 years. The foundation currently has four schools open in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Newark, New Jersey. They also plan to open another location in Staten Island in 2014.
Banks, who has been a member 100 Black Men of New York for 15 years, credits the organization for being the driving force behind opening the first Eagle Academy School.
“We looked up one day and had a conversation and said “we need to do more” and specifically for our young men,” said Banks. “So many of our young men were not graduating from high school.”
In 2004 the graduation rate for African-American males was about 32% in New York City public schools and 100 Black Men of New York’s mission became: “how do we begin to try and change that?”
“Seven or eight guys in the organization were the driving force in saying lets create a school for young men,” said Banks. “Something we could actually hold up as a real beacon to say it doesn’t have to be this way.”
100 Black Men then created a separate organization called The Eagle Academy Foundation, which is now the heart behind the schools.
Banks added that since opening their first school in 2004, 45 all boys’ schools have been opened all across the country.
The schools graduation rate was 87% in 2010, which is double the citywide rate for Black and Latino male students. 95% of their graduates also go on to college.
“We want our young men to have leadership skills, become men of character and men that will give back to their communities” said Banks.
“There is nothing wrong with our young men. They just need the right kind of supports and people believing in them, and they can go and manifest their greatness like everybody else,” he added.