OUR MISSION IS TO TRANSFORM THE LIVES OF AT-RISK STUDENTS THROUGH STRUCTURED AND SUPPORTIVE URBAN BOARDING SCHOOL PROGRAMS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH EXISTING SCHOOLS. OUR PROGRAMS USE DAILY STUDY HALL, ACADEMIC SUPPORT, ATHLETIC AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY, ALONG WITH A CULTURE OF SERVICE AND HIGH EXPECTATIONS IN THE DORMITORY TO CREATE A LIFE-CHANGING OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR STUDENTS
Our residential, athletic and extracurricular programs are formed through partnerships with other CBO’s. Our Urban Boarding School model and other programs can be replicated in different geographies with modification.
Our ability to leverage real estate assets is not based on unique condition in our country, or even in your region. As such, the program model is uniquely scalable and only limited by our current rate of capacity-building.
The average GPA increase over four years for students in the Urban Boarding Program model we employ was 8.5%. Absenteeism and tardiness decreased by 80%. College Acceptance for graduates was 95%.
WE ACHIEVE our mission by building Urban Boarding Schools and by funding strong sports-based youth development programs and extracurricular enrichment programs that are capable of providing a value-added campus component to our school partners. Our Urban Boarding School model is a derivative of the traditional New England Prep School model of education.
Our goal is to nationally replicate the Urban Boarding School Model designed and implemented over a 4.5 year period by Ray Walker via Anchor, Inc. Our model was originally utilized in building NYC’s 1st Urban Boarding School for Young Men at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, New York.
According to a 2013 survey by Afterschool Alliance, over 14.3 million youth in the U.S. remain unsupervised during after school hours and lack an after school program. Imagine if every student in America were engaged and active in dynamic programs connected to the school community until 6pm?
We are STOKES FOUNDATION and #itstartswithus.
Founder/Chief Executive Officer
Full Bio: Born and raised in The Bronx, Ray has spent over 25 years in vocation and direct service to children, families and school communities. In the years since graduating from Deerfield in 1992, he attended Georgetown University and worked with the Georgetown Hoyas Basketball Team under Coach John Thompson during his time on campus, while also spending the summer as an Advisor and Teaching Assistant at Prep for Prep. Ray began his professional career as a Supportive Housing Counselor and Transitional Employment Manager at Fountain House in the mid-’90s.
Professionally, Ray transitioned to direct-care residential work in 2000, initially hired as a Clinical Counselor at Y.O.U., Inc. in Massachusetts then growing to the roles of Senior Shift Supervisor and ultimately Program Director at Y.O.U., Inc. While there, Ray helped the organization’s Leadership Team by facilitating Therapeutic Restraint and Verbal De-escalation Trainings, as well as a two-day Vehicle Driver Safety Course and Examination in an organization of 500 staff serving children and adolescents. Ray also devoted his own time to build a Basketball Coaching framework while leading the Cottage Hill Academy Girls’ Basketball team to an undefeated regular season and 2nd place in the League Playoffs.
Ray returned to the tri-state area as Northeast Regional Manager at BuildOn, managing 32 after school programs in NY, CT, and PA designed to engage U.S. students in community service and the building of schools in developing countries. Several months later, Ray spent four and a half years as Director of Residential Life for the partnership between Anchor, Inc. and Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, where he would be empowered to design, implement and manage NYC’s first Urban Boarding School for young men.
Ray has also served as Board Member and Staff Development Committee Chairperson at Martin De Porres Schools as well as Parent-Teacher Association President and Board Member at the Schomburg Charter School. He currently serves on the Leadership Committee for Deerfield Club of New York as well as recently being asked to serve on the Deerfield Academy Alumni Association Executive Committee.
Jeremie comes to Stokes Foundation with a firm belief in the importance of equality in Education and dedication to serving others. Jeremie currently supervises all aspects of database management and supports back-end Development operations at the Foundation. An artist for life, he studied Graphic and Fine Arts at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, Michigan and comes to the foundation bringing a remarkable attention to detail that may relate to over 15 years in Retail Management and Leadership as a Customer Service Manager, Assistant Store Manager, and Store Manager at high-volume Corporations including Chicago Diversified Foods, RLC of Michigan’s Franchises, and Best Buy Corporation.
Jeremie is a proud advocate for the rights of the disabled and has been on disability since 2013. Although he is limited in the total amount of hours he is able to spend working remotely from Arkansas, due to both the challenges innate to his health and regulations around income, he constantly pushes forward and works tirelessly in his efforts on behalf of Stokes Foundation, its donors, and the students we serve.
Mr. Joe Gross
Founding Board of Trustees
Mrs. Chandra Jacobs
Ms. Tashama Stokes
Ms. Kristina Hess
Ms. Jennifer Ward
Mrs. Sue Carlson
Mr. Erik Hess
Mr. Randal Williams
Mr. Rick Roland
Mr. Patrick Rehnberg
Mr. Khalif Ford
Ms. Ana Maria Serrano
Mr. Ronald Houston
Mr. Trevor Mullen
Board of Directors 2.0
We are currently in an active and ongoing Board Formation process. To apply for Board Service click here and email a copy of your bio, resume, and formal letter indicating why board service at Stokes Foundation would interest you. Please describe your connection or personal investment in our mission, as well as how you might help in the governance, development and/or donor cultivation of a major national philanthropic organization.
Mr. Ryan FitzSimons, Founder/CEO
Dr. Eric Widmer, Former Headmaster
King’s Academy, Jordan
Dr. Meera Viswanathan
Mr. David Banks, Founder and Principal
Eagle Academy For Young Men
Mr. Chip Davis, Director of Athletics
Mr. Robert Kaufmann, Former Headmaster
Dr. Margarita Curtis, Head of School
Mr. David Pond, Associate Head of School for Alumni Affairs and Development (retired)
Mrs. Shelly M. King, Regional Director of Quality Assurance
Officer Derek M. Campbell, Vice-President Newburgh Police Benevolent Association
Newburgh Police Department
Sgt. Frank Williams, Executive Director
Jersey City Police Activity League
Ms. Nancy Elmezzi, School Principal
Schomburgh Charter School
Mrs. Katy Bordonaro, Director of Alumni Affairs
Prep for Prep
Mr. Desmond Pollack, Senior Vice-President
Mr. Frazer Rice, Managing Director
Wilmington Trust, N.A.
Stokes Foundation actively works to cultivate Philanthropic Marketing Relationships with corporations who partner in the success of students in the U.S.
We strive to provide a value-added return on investment for entities that help us generate impact.
Stokes Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity featured on GuideStar and Network for Good.
Urban boarding schools are residential schools designed to serve the needs of students in under-resourced urban communities. While they offer the kind of structure, support, and commitment to academic excellence found in traditional boarding schools, they allow students to remain in local communities and encourage family engagement.
Kids eat breakfast and then spend the day in class, just as they would at a regular day school. After school, they have a quick snack and participate in a mandatory athletic or extracurricular offering of choice at school. After returning to the dormitory and washing up, students sit down to a nutritious dinner in the dorm. After dinner, every student is required to return to their room or study areas for study hall. The dorm is quiet for two hours and senior students, tutors, and staff proctor the hours of study and are on hand to offer academic help to any student needing it. Urban boarding schools in our model are typically open Monday – Friday; students return home on weekends and over summer and school vacations.
Yes. Research has shown that providing a structured routine, positive relationships with adult role models, high expectations and academic support can have an enormous effect on student achievement. Roland Fryer, Professor of Economics at Harvard, used SEED, a chain of urban boarding schools, as a model to study the issue and concluded, “The impact of SEED on student achievement is significantly larger than that of the average charter school.” Boarding students raised math and reading scores, improved their health, and were significantly more likely to attend college than their peers, even though admission, by lottery, is random. (Stokes Foundation admits students selectively, but the same modality applies.)
An article in The Atlantic, “The Rise of Urban Public Boarding Schools,” discussed some of the other benefits residential schools can offer, like extra time to meet students’ emotional and psychological needs.
While all urban boarding schools share a commitment to supporting underserved youth, starting a school from the ground up and providing around-the-clock support is expensive. Stokes Foundation is unique because we bring the boarding component to existing day schools. A number of schools, particularly parochial schools in low-income neighborhoods, own buildings that are underused or empty. Partnering with these schools to convert existing buildings to dormitories and manage residential life is less expensive and more efficient than starting from scratch, and allows teachers to focus on what they do best – teaching. Rather than administering proprietary sports teams and extracurriculars, Stokes partners with city clubs and leagues, so often day students and boarding students at our partner schools have access to top-notch, city-wide programming without a huge price tag.
Students who are thriving in the day program would continue as day students, although everyone will have access to Stokes Foundation’s after-school programs. Students who need more support can apply to the residential program. Stokes Foundation utilizes a risk and resilience model for admissions, working closely with school faculty, administrators and admissions staff to identify a mix of students who could benefit from the boarding experience.
In school partnerships that involve tuition fees, Stokes Foundation provides a scholarship for the tuition expense, room and board, meals/snacks. Families are required to pay for school uniforms and books, if applicable (support is available). Families submit their Federal Tax Returns prior to admission and based on their AGI, remit a family contribution based on a sliding scale.
Ray Walker, Founder and Executive Director of the foundation, grew up in New York City and attended parochial and public schools prior to being accepted to the Prep for Prep program for academically talented students of color, and graduating from Deerfield Academy, a boarding school in rural Massachusetts and attending Georgetown University.
In addition to work at Prep for Prep, Fountain House, Inc., and Building with Books, in a career spanning over 25 years of direct service, Walker worked as a residential and clinical counselor and later Program Director for at-risk youth in Massachusetts and served as the Director of Residential Life at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, New York City’s first urban boarding school program for boys, before founding Stokes Foundation. Inspired by the memory of Deerfield classmate J.J. Stokes and by the dramatic impact the boarding experience had on students during his tenure at Bishop Loughlin, Walker and several stakeholders launched Stokes in 2011 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Stokes Foundation started small, providing programming services ranging from Girls’ Basketball and competitive Flag Rugby to Photography and School Pride Days, and other programs to local students. The foundation also used the online survey tools designed by Walker to help schools and organizations apply for grants from other local, state and philanthropic sources. Stokes Foundation facilitated the rehab of substandard school and community facilities, twice partnering with Goldman Sachs’ Community Teamworks Program. Relying on individual, corporate, and in-kind donations, the organization continued to grow and is currently raising funds to remodel its first dormitory for middle school boys in Brooklyn via partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.
Lieutenant Frank Williams, Executive Director of Jersey City Police Activity League once said of the foundation’s impact on his work:
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