By George Kevin Jordan, Special to the AFRO
The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. recently donated $10,000 to support the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, an independent and tuition free institution that serves children from traditionally underserved communities in the Washington, D.C.
The fraternity’s donation, which highlights Alpha’s commitment to urban communities, is aligned with its national program, “Go-To-High-School, Go-To-College,” which was established in 1922 and concentrates on the importance of completing secondary and collegiate education as a road to advancement.
“Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is committed to the uplift and education of our youth, especially for African American males,” said Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 35th General President Everett B. Ward. “Throughout the Fraternity’s history, we have consistently provided support for institutions and initiatives that solidify our commitment to the community. Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys is ensuring that our boys are challenged to reach their full academic potential and prepared for future leadership and service in their communities and we are grateful for the opportunity to support.”
Currently, Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, which is located in Southeast D.C., serves Junior-Kindergarten through Sixth grade and is expanding to 8th grade by 2020 when its total enrollment reaches 160 students.
“We’re really excited that the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha (Fraternity, Inc.) gave a very generous donation to the Bishop Walker School,” said James Woody, chief development officer for the school. “(Since) the Bishop Walker is a tuition-free school, we’re always open to financial contributions, but we’re also interested in having men of color come down and be positive role models for our students.”
The Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys officially opened in 2008 with a single class of 13 four year olds and a staff consisting of three classroom teachers and an administrator, according to the school’s website. The institution’s mission is to use education to combat the D.C. communities’ high school drop off rate and bolster test scores, which have lagged in the past for children in underserved communities.
Male youth and young adults are more likely than their female counterparts to have dropped out of high school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2016, 7 percent of males ages 16 to 24 were high school dropouts, compared with 5 percent of females. Although males comprise roughly half of the population in this age group, they make up 59 percent of high school dropouts. In recent years, males have been more likely to drop out, but female youth were more likely to leave school prior to 1980.
The school, which receives no public funding and covers all expenses through donations and contributed services, is named for the first African American Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, the Rt. Reverend John Thomas Walker, who was “a pastor, teacher, cathedral builder, civil rights leader, ecumenist, social justice pioneer, urban missionary, relief worker and statesman” and welcomes boys of all faiths and beliefs.