In 1970 Dr. Angela Paige Cook and Reverend Joe Cook, along with six diverse co-founders participating in the Civil Rights movement, came together to open Paige Academy, an independent, non-profit alternative educational institution. The school was created to provide young children in Boston’s inner city neighborhoods with an education that engaged them in a creative, nurturing, culturally enriching and self-affirming manner. Paige Academy offers a unique educational experience that welcomes all children in Boston’s multi-racial population with an emphasis on supporting African-American communities that have historically been impacted by the traumas of enslavement, economic depression, and discrimination. The Seven Principles of Kwanza, or Nguzo Saba, serve as a universal guiding philosophy for the school.
Paige Academy exists on a beautiful campus in the heart of Roxbury featuring three Victorian houses, garden plots and fruit orchards, fish pond, playgrounds, a chicken coop, teepee, and compost area. Over the decades Paige Academy transformed several blighted properties through love and perseverance into an educational sanctuary. In the 1970s, when banks were redlining lending inner city neighborhoods by refusing to loan them money Paige Academy raised $10,000 in pennies to build the neighborhood’s first playground. Our flagship building underwent at $3.5 million renovation in 1999 which brought an unprecedented level of investment to an independent inner-city educational facility.
Paige Academy was founded during the bussing crisis in Boston where African-American children were being bussed to white schools under a barrage of racial epitaphs and rocks. Paige Academy was created to provide the best educational opportunities for inner-city children right in their own neighborhood in order to break the cycle of poverty through holistic, cultural education and quality employment in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, 50 years later, children of color in traditional schools are still stifled by the impacts of discrimination and a culturally un-resonant learning environment as demonstrated by these statistics:
The vast majority (85.3%) of young people (17 and under) living in poverty in Boston are Black and Latino (2010 US Census Bureau)
According to a 2014 Boston Redevelopment Authority report, 49.7% of children in Roxbury live in poverty.
Students of color often face hostile school climates, often being targeted for discipline, suspension, and expulsion (Bradley & Renzulli, 2011)
In the BPS, the suspension rate is 9.4% for Black males and 7% for Latino males, whereas it is only 2.4% for white males.
Despite having only 14% white students, over 60% of teachers in Boston Public Schools are white. (BPS via the Boston Globe)
Paige Academy provides education and care for 120 children beginning at 3 weeks through the sixth grade, after school, as well as Summer programs. Paige Academy provides a holistic, age appropriate curriculum that stimulates the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development of the child. Our child-centered curriculum allows children the freedom to master skills in reading, writing, and STEM in addition to classes in music (African drumming, folk, jazz, and free-form drumming), visual art, theater, gardening and cooking classes, yoga, robotics, computer coding, physics, Native American crafts, and Civil Rights history.
Paige Academy is creating an innovative model of education that is based on cultural resonance, nurturing community, and rigorous academic achievement beginning during infancy. Cultural resonance is educating students with an awareness or sensitivity that is consistent with the cultural life force of a particular community, particularly the African diaspora and Boston’s multi-racial communities. Evidence demonstrates that when students see their culture reflected in the teaching staff, curriculum, and environment that their overall performance increases dramatically. To that end over 16 languages, many religious beliefs, and dozens of national backgrounds create a welcoming atmosphere for children of any culture.
Since opening in the 1970s, Paige Academy has recognized the importance of early childhood education for the development of self-determined, community-minded individuals. Paige Academy’s infant, toddler, and pre-school classes combine a nurturing environment with age-appropriate stimulation for our youngest students. Since early childhood learning provides the foundation for the rest of one’s life, Paige Academy is committed to providing a nourishing 0-5 year experience, especially the ages of 0-3 because 80% of the brain develops during this time period.
Paige Academy was selected as a recipient of the competitive Preschool Expansion Grant which means we have a BPS preschool classroom located at our campus. In recognition of our achievements and innovative model Paige Academy was recently included in the Social Innovation Forum 2019 Social Innovator Cohort.
After 49 years of tirelessly leading the school, Dr. Angela Paige Cook and Rev. Joe Cook who were among the co-founders, are planning to transition roles at the school within the next year. In order to celebrate their achievements and provide a strong foundation for the next 50 years of success Paige Academy is implementing the Legacy Vision. This strategic plan is designed to improve Paige Academy's innovative model while adapting to the challenges we’re facing including gentrification of the neighborhood, a rising cost of doing business, and the impacts of climate change.
Currently, Paige Academy is in the process of buying two pieces of adjacent land that we have been stewarding for decades to secure our land base and prevent developers from encroaching on our school. For one piece of land we are proposing a climate-resilient community walking path and garden. Furthermore, Paige Academy plans to renovate the basement of one of our buildings to add two new infant classrooms to meet the high demand in Boston.
This crowdfunding campaign on ifundwomen is one major step we are taking to make sure we have the necessary resources to continue and expand upon our mission. Any support that we receive through this campaign will go directly into running Paige Academy and building towards a stronger future. A portion of the funds raised ($5,000) will go towards creating the re-designed John Eliot Square Urban Wild pictured below.
Funding Tiers - (based on the Seven Principles of Kwanza)
Umoja - Unity, $25
Handwritten thank you card on Paige Academy postcard
Kujichagulia - Self-Determination, $50
Handmade card from one of our students
Ujima - Collective Work and Responsibility, $100
Hand made student card and Paige Academy historical book
Ujamaa - Cooperative Economics, $250
Student card and Paige Academy original compost poster
Nia - purpose, $500
Student card and care package from our garden
Kuumba - creativity, $1000
Student card, poster, care package, and tea with Sister Angela
Imani - faith, $2500
Student card, poster, care package, tea, and an inscribed brick in our renovated building