ENGLEWOOD — For the fifth consecutive year, Urban Prep Academy announced a 100 percent college acceptance rate for seniors at all its Chicago campuses. Now, school founder Tim King wants to bring his mission to a new city.
"I am shooting for opening a new campus in another state by fall 2015," King told DNAinfo Chicago. "A lot of cities have expressed interest in having a campus there but we have to make sure it is a right fit ... New York, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Memphis (Tenn.) and Nashville, Tenn. have expressed an interest in our school."
The all-boys charter school, which opened in 2006, has campuses in Bronzeville, Near West Side and Englewood.
"I want to expand Urban Prep across the country," he said.
Alumnus Paris Williams attended the ceremony at the school's Englewood campus, 6201 S. Stewart Ave., and said he was a part of the school's graduating class in 2010. In May, Williams will graduate from Georgetown University with a bachelor's degree in marketing.
"I am the man I am today because of Urban Prep. And next month I will be a college graduate thanks to Urban Prep," Williams told more than 400 parents, students and community members. "To all my Urban Prep brothers, you can succeed too if you use what Urban Prep has given you and that's pride, knowledge and wisdom."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined King along with City Treasurer Stephanie Neely and Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), whose ward includes the Englewood campus, as each senior was honored for their academic achievement.
"You are champions in the classroom. This is a milestone worth celebrating and an expectation not just for Urban Prep but for every child in Chicago," the mayor said. "Don't ever bet against the kids of Chicago because you will lose."
Urban Prep seniors received $11 million in grants and scholarships this year and five students are Gates Millennium Scholar finalists. The scholarship pays for a student's entire college career — from undergrad to Ph.D programs.
Another expense seniors won't have to worry about this year is prom. The Wade's World Foundation, founded by Miami Heat basketball star and Chicago native Dwyane Wade, made a $10,000 donation to Urban Prep Tuesday.
"This money is to provide a free prom to all the seniors. We at Wade's World Foundation wanted you to know how proud we are of you and that we are here for you as you continue your education," said Tragil Wade, president of the foundation and Dwyane's sister.
Rev. Jolinda Wade, pastor of New Creation Binding and Loosing Ministries Church and Dwyane's mother, said Urban Prep's success made her emotional.
"It brought tears to my eyes as I looked at all these young, black men doing something positive and proving society wrong about black youths," Jolinda Wade said. "This is why we should never give up on them because prayer can change things."
Jewel Horton, whose grandson is among the graduates, also wiped away tears during the ceremony.
"I am so proud of him. It is a feeling hard to describe when you see your grandson struggle in the beginning but come out on top in the end," Horton said. "I pray that he has the same success in college."
King said the best way to combat stereotypes about black youths was to help them graduate from high school.
“Urban Prep’s record college acceptance, enrollment, and persistence rates demonstrate that we’re changing the educational landscape for young black males,” he said.
Brandon Horton, 18, said he would attend Tennessee State University this fall. The Roseland resident, who attends the Bronzeville campus, plans to study mechanical engineering.
His mother, Roslyn Joshua, said she sent him to Urban Prep because "he needed guidance and positive black, male role models in his life."