The Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy is ready to take children to the next level, reports Afro Tech.
The Historically Black College and University (HBCU) prep high school in Denver has just opened its doors, and its inaugural class of freshmen will be treated to a rare twist on the “college prep experience.” Namely, the academy is designed to mimic the HBCU experience, and according to Vibe, it’s the first of its kind to do so.
Initially, according to co-founder Samatha Pryor, the plan was to name the school after First Lady Michelle Obama. Ultimately, however, it was decided to name the school after the chemical engineer turned investor. Pryor also said that the school was opened up in an area that was in desperate need of those types of resources.
“We wanted to create a high-quality option in our neighborhood because a lot of our kids were going outside of our neighborhood, traveling long distances across the city, to find quality options,” she said.
The Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy’s founding principal, Shakira Abney-Wisdom, said that the school was also open to other minority students, as well. The ultimate goal, she said, was to validate their experiences.
“There is a persistent erasure of the Black experience, of Latinx and indigenous experiences in this nation and world. Our focus is to really center the experience of those of us who have been marginalized and minoritized,” she said. “Our school’s existence is just an act of resilience and resistance to oppressive structures in society. This is a sanctuary, really, a safe space for our scholars to be all that they are, and to grow, to challenge themselves, to challenge one another, to accomplish the goals that they have.”
Robert F. Smith is best known for pledging to cover the student loans, and debts, of the Morehouse graduating class of 2019. Since then, he also gifted the HBCU $1.5 million to start a scholarship fund.