ESPN talking head and former NBA player Jalen Rose formally stepped into the philanthropic world in 2011 with the establishment of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. Together with Michael Carter, the pair founded a tuition-free public charter school in Detroit with the mission to instill respect determination, excellence, and family values in every student that passes through.
In the past six years, JRLA has graduated more than 90 percent of its students, with 100 percent of all graduates gaining college, trade, technical school and/or military acceptance. Moreover, more than 83 percent have gone on to college, almost 20 percent higher than the state average. As a charter school, JRLA does not receive any state funding and receives just $7,300 per student to support the school's operations. In order to fund facilities and repairs, Rose and Carter put on an annual celebrity golf tournament, regularly seeing support for athletes across leagues.
Rose has always felt a pull to give back to his community, and he quickly recognized that in order to close the opportunity gap, the emphasis must be on equal access to quality education. As Rose puts it, "We're basically trying to put [the students] in a position to succeed in the same college classroom and also compete for the same job and career opportunities in the future, so that's why we call it bridging the education gap. It's really bridging the financial gap."
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