By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, mgray@afro.com

Former NBA star turned broadcaster Jalen Rose can’t imagine a life without high school sports.  It was the platform that led him to the University of Michigan as the leader of the two time Final Four quintet known as the Fab Five.       

However, Rose a charter school founder in Detroit, is ready to step up as an advocate for saving high school athletics, which he said could be phased out without proper funding totally within the next 20 years.told the AFRO during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 

“That sounds to me like Flint (Michigan) [not having] water,” Rose (CBCF) 49th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC).  “It’s mind boggling that this is taking place in 2019.  But if that’s the dynamics we are dealing with, I’m gonna put myself in a position where we can meet the needs of our students.”

Jalen Rose and his co-founder Michael Carter, of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA) in Detroit received this year’s Trailblazer Award at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools #BringTheFunk Charter School Leadership Awards during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference.

The co-host of ESPN TV’s morning show “Get Up,” was one of four charter school advocates to be honored during the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, second annual #BringTheFunk Charter School Leadership Awards event during the CBCF ALC 2019. Rose, and his co-founder Michael Carter, of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA) in Detroit received this year’s Trailblazer Award for their efforts to start the school that bears his name in his hometown in 2011.

Despite Rose’s investment, which is not subsidized by any government funding, the school is flourishing.  Detroit’s economy has suffered tremendously as the automobile industry moved many of their manufacturing plants overseas taking those jobs from the city with them.  However, JRLA has become a pathway to success for its students by implementing the 9-16 academic model where scholars are supported from high school through college graduation using a “College Success Team” that works to coordinate success for their current students and alumni.

“How can you have a school that is successful and stand in front of an [electronic banner] with no sponsors,”  Rose said.   

Rose values the life experiences that youth sports provide and how those extra curricular activities contribute to the social development of young people.  He is passionate about bringing greater awareness to the perils facing interscholastic athletics, especially those facing public and charter schools. Baltimore’s nationally ranked St. Francis Academy and D.C.’s dominant Friendship Collegiate football programs face scheduling and facility challenges.

“The issue of young people not having the resources to participate in extracurricular activities is a major problem in the United States of America, especially for those from inner cities,” Rose said.  “I’ve got a word for that. That sounds like segregation to me.”

According to the JRLA website,  US News just ranked JRLA No. 3 among open enrollment high schools in Detroit based on college readiness levels, including math and reading proficiency and college curriculum.  The Academy also boasts a 94 percent graduation rate, 100 percent college and post-secondary acceptance, and is No. 2 for Detroit open enrollment high school for college matriculation.