Alumnae Profiles: Alexandria Lee, C'2004
Alexandria Lee, C'2004, recently received the 2014 Black Male Achievement Fellow
award to support the Anew School, a two-year boarding school in Ghana, West Africa, for African-American boys who have been tracked for failure. Funded by Open Society Foundations and Echoing Green, the fellowship program is the first of its kind in the world for social entrepreneurs who are establishing new and innovative organizations in the field of Black male achievement.
A Spelman and Harvard Law School alum, attorney, and social engineer, Lee is president and founder of The Anew School
, a rapidly growing institution whose mission is to "transform students who have been labeled 'free lunch,' 'at-risk,' or 'special education' into high-achieving, well-rounded social engineers equipped with the tools to motivate, inspire, and effect positive change within their communities."
A Changed Life, Changing Lives
Once considered “at-risk,” Lee renounced and transcended that label with the support of her mother and a teacher who believed in her. She was born to unmarried parents, and raised by her single mother while her father struggled with addiction. As one of few African-American children in her school system, she was placed in remedial classes, told that her dreams were unrealistic, and that she would probably not graduate from high school.
Fortunately, Lee had her first intervening teacher in high school, who challenged her academically, taught her about African and African-American history and literature, and developed her socially and emotionally. The work her teacher did was elevated by her first experience on the continent of Africa. Lee says the trip filled voids in her that she never knew she had, gave her a strong sense of identity and bolstered her blooming self-confidence.
Lee vowed she would transform the lives of children, like herself, who have infinite potential, but have been tracked for failure. The Anew School is her story, and it ends in success. The Anew School provides academic, emotional/mental health, and social training to African-American boys who attend the bottom 5% of schools in the state. The goal of the Anew school is to transform their students into the top 25% of achievers in five years, improving academic performance while teaching students to destroy restraining labels.
"When children are removed from environments that foster self-doubt and reinforce defeat, and provided individualized tools for success, they can begin anew. We start by taking our students from their communities in America, and educate them in our international boarding school facility in Ghana, West Africa, where we promote high achievement by focusing on academic performances while encouraging self-reflection, increased confidence, and global identity. We end the experience in our US-based boarding school facility where students learn to apply their ignited passion for education, community leadership, and service to their home communities."
As a Black Male Achievement Fellow, Lee will receive:
- A stipend of $70,000
- A health insurance stipend
- A yearly professional development stipend
- Leadership development and networking gatherings
- Access to technical support and pro bono partnerships to help grow their organization and a dedicated Echoing Green portfolio manager
- A community of like-minded social entrepreneurs and public service leaders, including Open Society Foundations and the Echoing Green network of nearly 600 Fellows at Large working all over the world.