The Urban Education Symposium, attended by a host of professionals, community and education advocates, civic leaders and entrepreneurs presented open public discussion on some of the unique issues facing young African Americans and bolstered the argument for gender-specific education, which was one of the primary objectives in the strategic approach of saving the African-American youth of Northwest Jacksonville. Education is increasingly a ticket to prosperity in our society. It is associated with increased earning potential and job security. High school completion is essential to securing a job that pays a living wage. The current educational outcomes for African American males and females are not only tragic for those students affected, but also take an alarming economic toll on the nation as a whole.
- The numbers for African American students remain even more alarming. Statewide, over the past five years, African American male graduation rates continued to trail African American females and both males and females of all other races reported.
- The graduation rate for African American students in Duval County in 2012 was 62.3%, about 5.4% below the district-wide average and more than 10% behind the graduation rate for White students (72.7%).
An introductory meeting at a Starbucks sparked the origins of PROFECTUS in the summer of 2011. E. Shawn Ashley, a prominent business man in Jacksonville, FL, with a passion in education equality, introduced two guys: one with the will, the other with the way. Cleve Warren, the “will”, a civic leader and co-founder of Jacksonville Community Engagement Group, met the “way” – at that time principal of a high performing K-8 school in Jacksonville – Olatunji Williams. Williams’ success in leading his school to “A”- status, and Warren’s efforts to create greater awareness of the need for a “call to action” in Jacksonville’s urban schools ignited serious discussion of making an immediate impact in the “Northwest Zone” of Jacksonville. The trio discussed the education issues presented at the Urban Education Symposium earlier that year. It was then that the brainchild to come together and create schools to reclaim the African-American youth for Jacksonville’s future was birthed.
This dream became a potential reality when the trio formed the non-profit CMO, PROFECTUS, meaning, “progress” in Latin. Williams, an esteemed educator in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and urban education reform would serve as Chief Executive Officer. Ashley, an accomplished entrepreneur and successful practitioner of “start up” companies, would serve as the Chief of Operations. Warren, would head the PROFECTUS CMO Board of Directors.
PROFECTUS has been approved by Duval County Public Schools and launched Valor Academy of Leadership elementary, middle and high schools for males in 2014.
We believe PROFECTUS schools can help turnaround our African-American youth by providing a gender base model that holds each student to high expectations. With the opportunity to build a new model, one that aims to follow best practices from schools successfully closing the achievement gap, offer innovative 21st century approaches to curriculum, classroom structure and a single gender model- PROFECTUS Schools will meet the needs described above.