Might Dodwell House be home to a school for urban youth that lack the resources of other families?
The geographic areas surrounding our church and Dodwell House are some of the economically poorest in the Nation. In the Treme and Lafitte neighborhood (our location) 62% of the residents live in poverty. This same area ranked #1 in the region for mortality due to heart disease and diabetes. The population in our ‘service territory’ is currently 28,000 and projected to increase to 35,000 by 2015. Over 1/3 of the adult population has less than a High School diploma. The Treme and 7th Ward are named “hot spots” for violent crime by NOPD. Opportunities for solid and progressive elementary education are limited with no Public “performing schools” in the below Canal St. corridor.
Yet, through the work of Anna’s Arts for Kids over 60+ children have been identified as having rich potential for scholarship in the arts and academics. We call this “Urban Wealth.” The question is do we, as a people of God and participants in community, invest in early learning and safe spaces? Or, do we invest in more prisons, more and broader social safety nets, and endless programs for lifetime social support?
The idea of St. Anna’s Urban Episcopal Academy is the dream of some prophets in our age. The hope is to break cycles of poverty by investing in education, health, wellness, and spiritual strength in younger children. But not this alone, to build a community empowered by mentoring parents, offering sound medical access to whole families, by seeking job placement, training, and adult educational opportunities. It is possible.
The campus to be built and fully funded is a sum of about $1.2million for construction. The annual expense of the school project is approximately $550,000 per year to educate about 60 children from K-4.
PROPOSITION: If 100 individuals or churches pledged $4,000 per year for a three year period such a school and such a dream could be realized. Consider asking your church or friends to make such a pledge because it is a matter of life and death.