Board Approves African-Centered Charter School

Board Approves African-Centered Charter School
Posted on 11/28/2023

African Heritage, Inc. (AHI) is proud to announce the establishment of The Ọmọladé Academy, an African-centered charter school, with authorizing partner the Appleton Area School District (AASD). The Academy will be open to all students entering grades K-3 in the fall of 2024 and aims to provide a holistic educational experience that celebrates the cultural heritage of African descendants while fostering intellectual, leadership, and entrepreneurial talents in students.

African Heritage, Inc. first approached the AASD in the fall of 2022 about serving as the authorizer for a new charter school. At that time, the State of Wisconsin was not accepting grant requests, which would be needed to fund the planning and start-up of a charter school. So, no action was taken by the AASD Board of Education. During the summer of 2023, AHI applied for a charter school grant from the U.S. Department of Education and was awarded a five-year grant. Upon receiving the grant confirmation, which is valued at $1,739,807, AHI again approached the AASD about serving as the authorizer of the newly named The Ọmọladé Academy charter school.  

On Monday, November 27, the AASD Board of Education voted to approve a five-year contract (charter) with the AASD to operate The Ọmọladé Academy. The AASD is proud to welcome another option for students into our District. Superintendent Greg Hartjes says of this new charter school, “We repeatedly hear from families that part of the reason they chose and love the AASD is the variety of options we have within our District.”

“The AASD's encouragement of charter school growth to meet the various needs of students at no additional cost to the district reflects a commitment to choice in education. Which allows families and students to have options that align with their unique learning styles and preferences,” he continued.

Named "The Ọmọladé Academy" - which translates to "Child of the Crown" in the Yoruba language - the charter school will initially serve K-3 students, with plans to expand to K-5. It will open in the fall of 2024 and will begin accepting applications for the 2024-2025 school year on December 1, 2023. The AASD charter school application is a lottery process. Learn more about the application timeline and what is needed to apply here.

The Ọmọladé Academy will teach an African-centered core curriculum approach, along with a rigorous STREEAM curriculum, integrating Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Arts, and Math. The mission of The Ọmọladé Academy is to ensure that each child becomes a competitive and bold change-maker in our global society. 

“African Heritage, Inc. is thrilled to establish a charter school dedicated to providing a holistic African-centered curriculum that positions students to excel and thrive. Dr. Mary Jane McLeod Bethune, one of the most influential educators and civil rights pioneers, once said, 'We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices to direct their power toward good ends. The Omolade Academy is answering this call by offering a rigorous African-centered STREEAM curriculum that recognizes, understands, honors, validates, cultivates, and celebrates the diverse talents of every student at The Omolade Academy,” said Dr. Bola Delano-Oriaran, co-founder of African Heritage Inc.

The Appleton Area School District currently offers a wide variety of unique academic programs, supports, and extracurricular activities at charter schools across Appleton, ensuring students have access to the tools they need to thrive and be successful.  

Since the late 90s, the AASD recognized the need for charter schools through conversations with parents and students, outreach to local and statewide communities, and the knowledge that the traditional classroom does not always meet the needs of all students. Our community desires diverse choices in learning and these options strengthen our total district program.

1999: Classical School (K-8)
2000: Renaissance School for the Arts (9-12)
2002: Appleton eSchool (7-12)
2002: Tesla Engineering Charter (9-12)
2002: Wisconsin Connections Academy (4K-12)
2003: Valley New School (7-12)
2005: Appleton Public Montessori (4K-6)
2005: Fox River Academy (K-8)
2006: Foster Elementary Charter (K-6)
2007: Fox Cities Leadership Academy (9-12)
2007: Kaleidoscope Academy (6-8)
2011: Appleton Bilingual (K-5)
2014: Appleton Technical Academy (9-12)
2023: The Ọmọladé Academy (K-3)

Charter schools are public, free, nonsectarian schools created through a contract or "charter" between the operators and the sponsoring school board. The Wisconsin charter school law gives charter schools freedom from most state rules and regulations in exchange for greater accountability for results. The charter defines the missions and methods of the charter school; the chartering authority (school board) holds the school accountable to its charter. 

  • Charter schools are tuition-free and enrollment is voluntary.   
  • They have the flexibility to design and deliver innovative curricula in nontraditional ways in order to meet the needs of participating students.   
  • They may not discriminate in admissions, programs, or activities.   
  • Students take state tests required of other public school students.   
  • Teachers are certified and licensed by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. 
  • Employees are district employees and subject to all district policies and regulations. 

Key Features of The Ọmọladé Academy:

  • Rigorous STREEAM Curriculum: A holistic approach integrating Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Arts, and Math.
  • Cultural Roots: The school focuses on an African-centered curriculum that celebrates the cultural heritage of African descendants.
  • Addressing Disparities: A commitment to addressing the significant gaps in test scores and proficiency between certain groups of students in the Appleton Area School District.
  • Inclusive Learning: A pledge to foster an inclusive environment with culturally relevant teaching methods that affirm students' identities.
  • Community and Unity: Emphasis on fostering community, unity, and a sense of belonging among students.

Expected to open its doors in the fall of 2024, The Ọmọladé Academy is poised to make a significant impact in addressing disparities, providing inclusive learning, and expanding educational options for families in the Appleton Area School District. 

African Heritage, Inc. looks forward to working collaboratively with the Appleton community, parents, and students to create an educational environment where each child can flourish, embodying the principles of joy, love, dignity, and excellence.