Evan Lewis, the school's Vice President for Institutional Advancement, argues that getting the students in to college is not the only goal, but that getting them through college is what matters.
"We are not just committed to getting our students through high school, we are committed to getting them through college. We are going to be a constant presence in their lives and give them the support that a lot of folks don't have when they go to college."The school has a very strict dress code, consisting of black blazers, khaki pants and a red tie. The red tie is swapped out for a gold one once the student is accepted in to college. When one student, Rayvaughn Hines, was asked which college he was accepted to, he said, "Do you want me to name them all?"
Hines, a student who once thought college wasn't made for him, has chosen to become a Morehouse man. He cherished the moment when he switched out his red tie for a gold one.
"I wanted to take my time, because I was just so proud of myself," he said. "I wanted everyone to see me put it on."
Urban Prep has a unique set of hurdles. It is in a troubled part of the city, and only 4 percent of the incoming freshmen could read at grade level. With hard work and persistence, the students who could not read at grade level four years ago are now on their way to college.
"I never had a doubt that we would achieve this goal," said Tim King, the school's founder and CEO. "Every single person we hired knew from the day one that this is what we do: We get our kids in to college."From the day the students enter high school, they are prepared for the next step. They have a college counselor from day one, and their first field trip is a visit to Northwestern University. Their school day is longer than that of students who attend other schools. The school's voice mail has a student saying, "I am college bound," before the caller is able to dial an extension.
Urban Prep is a charter school that should be emulated in all school districts with large Black male populations. Urban Prep Academy reminds us that when adults create an environment conducive for success, the children in that environment will always rise to the occasion.
I encourage all villagers to share this story with their children, nephews, neices and young 'uns in the neighborhood. Urban Prep Academy is breaking mental barriers and prescribed capabilities with each graduate they usher in to this big, bold world.