Detroit-Area Civic Leaders Introduce University Preparatory Academy, A New Model of Urban Schooling

Kmart Corporation Contributes $1 Million to New Public School Effort

A new model for public schools was formally introduced today when the University Preparatory Academy (UPA) dedicated its new school building in Detroit's Cultural Center and announced it received a $1 million grant from Kmart Corporation.

Doug Ross, co-principal of UPA and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor, accepted a check from Kmart Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles C. Conaway at the dedication ceremony today. UPA named its new facility the Kmart Cultural Center Campus, in recognition of the retailer's significant contribution and partnership.

The University Preparatory Academy first opened its doors in September 2000 with 112 sixth graders in a temporary school facility. Last month, the school began its second year, moving to a new permanent middle school building at 5310 St. Antoine, and adding seventh grade classes -- bringing the current student count to 226 with 23 staff members. UPA will continue to add one grade a year until it provides a full middle and high school in 2006.

UPA was founded by a group of educators, business and community leaders with a mission to demonstrate a new model of public education that prepares urban children in Detroit and other big cities to earn high school degrees and attend college. UPA's learning model is designed around a "one student at a time" approach that stresses individualized learning and strong learning relationships between each student and one adult in the school. In public schools in Harlem, Queens, Boston and Providence, this model demonstrated the ability to graduate 90 percent of inner-city students from high school and send 90 percent of those graduates on to college.

As a public charter school, UPA receives state funding to cover the basic costs of education, but does not receive funding for facility and equipment costs. Kmart's $1 million investment enables UPA to offer families a safe, well-equipped school for their children without diverting education dollars to cover building costs.

"We would not have our new facility without Kmart's support," said Doug Ross, UPA co-principal. "Kmart's contribution permits us to operate on a more level financial playing field with other public schools in the city. It was important to us to show our gratitude by naming our new building the Kmart Cultural Center Campus."

Kmart's contribution to UPA is part of the company's new Leaders in Learning corporate giving and community outreach initiative that focuses all of the company's community-based resources to support diverse education programs and promote lifelong learning.

"At Kmart, we feel it is important to provide positive leadership examples that help young people attain their fullest potential and develop the necessary skills for lifelong learning, in this case through a non-traditional model," said Conaway. "We are pleased to help University Preparatory Academy succeed at creating an innovative new urban public education model in Detroit that may be influential in improving all schools."

Kmart's $1 million grant will provide UPA with $200,000 a year for five years.

University Preparatory Academy is a public charter school authorized by the Wayne Intermediate School Board in March of 2000. UPA is co-led by Doug Ross and Jean Baker, a former Ann Arbor middle school principal and Associate Superintendent of The Detroit Archdiocese schools. The school also benefits from two higher education partners, Wayne State University and Henry Ford Community College.


SOURCE: University Preparatory Academy

Contact: Doug Ross of University Preparatory Academy, +1-313-831-0100;
or Julie Fracker of Kmart Corporation, +1-248-463-1021

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