OPINION – Last week, Fortune School opened our third tuition-free elementary school in Sacramento County—Alan Rowe College Prep located in Elk Grove. We started with grades Kindergarten through 3rd and will grow a grade level a year through middle school.

Usually, schools are named for the rich or the dead. At Fortune School, we have a tradition of naming each new charter school we open after a living, local African American community icon. Their wealth is measured in their community service. The idea is to honor people still in our midst who represent the best of who we are. This year’s honoree, Alan Rowe has helped 15,000 students gain admission to historically black colleges with $55 million in scholarship money to pay the way.

Legendary members of our community, like Alan Rowe, lend their good names to our charter schools to advance the cause of educating African American children in Sacramento. For sure, the people we name our schools after receive a tremendous honor. There’s nothing like seeing your name embroidered on the crisp uniforms of hundreds of school children marching off to class. But we believe, honorees like Alan Rowe give more than they receive. They give their hard-earned credibility to bless and protect this regional effort to unapologetically create learning environments where African American children excel.

Our results show that it’s working. This year 1,035 scholars are enrolled in a Fortune School. Soon, the California Department of Education will release data for 2013 showing that for the second year in a row, Fortune School’s students have exceeded the state goal for academic achievement, scoring over an 800 on the state academic performance index.

Come visit Alan Rowe College Prep. You will see African American children learning in a school with academic rigor, more instructional time, and a culture of high expectations. It’s refreshing. Come witness the phenomenon for yourself.
By Margaret Fortune