While there are many programs created to help young Black boys, one brother has embarked on a unique and ambitious journey: starting a private high school that focuses solely on the development of Black boys.
“Our entire mission is centered around saving Black boys,” said SAVE Institute founder Atiba Jones. “Saving them from negative life outcomes and from cycles of poverty. crime, incarceration, and, most importantly, lack of purpose. We do this through the four pillars of SAVE; engaging them in service, agriculture, vocational training, and entrepreneurship.”
The SAVE High School is located in Atlanta, GA, and provides students an innovative alternative to traditional high school that allows for students to learn academics through projects, life experiences, agriculture, vocational training, and implementing business enterprises.
Students who complete the two-year program receive a high school diploma, agricultural and vocational trade certifications, plus a fully launched and developed business of their own.
According to Jones, SAVE High School’s comprehensive, two-year approach was developed in direct response to the specific challenges Black boys face when attempting to attend and graduate from traditional high school programs.
“High school dropout rates amongst Black male youth in public schools are now over 50%,” Jones explained. “What has been found is that by creating an accelerated track for young men to complete high school early, they are much, much less likely to drop out and much more likely to graduate.”
This fall, the SAVE High School is launching a boarding component – allowing the school to accept students from cities across the country.
“[SAVE High School] is completely a non-traditional way of implementing high school,” Jones said. “Students aren’t just sitting in the classroom all day, they’re learning through doing. Every day, they’re learning different vocational trades like carpentry, masonry, electric, and construction management. They also spend time working on the farm, raising the animals, and growing food – not just learning about figures and events.”
Jones launched the SAVE Institute in 2017 after a decades-long career working in education and among at-risk youth. The Morehouse graduate felt called to work with young people while in college. After moving to Atlanta from Philadelphia, he was saddened to see Black youth in the city facing the same barriers and challenges that he and his friends faced back home.
“Growing up as a Black male from the inner city, I experienced many of my own friends and cousins getting murdered and incarcerated. I got to a point where I just was fed up and I wanted to do something about it,” Jones said. “After my sophomore year in college, I decided to dedicate my life to working with Black youth in this country. So, I switched my major to education and this is the work that I’ve been doing, ever since.”
SAVE High School is currently located in south Atlanta, but Jones has plans to expand the campus onto a large, rural piece of land that the organization recently purchased. The land purchase was a significant accomplishment that will help the school expand its agriculture and vocational programs, giving the students a much richer experience than can be provided within the city limits of Atlanta.
Right now, the school is seeking donations to help facilitate this expansion and to provide full scholarships for some of its students. With as little as $10 monthly (approx. the cost of a streaming subscription), you can help sustain the long-term vision and programming of the SAVE High School as a SAVE Champion. One-time donations are also accepted. Donors become part of the school’s family and receive regular updates about its progress and the student’s achievements.