Opening fall 2017, Rooted School will be a charter high school in New Orleans and beyond that prepares students to compete for the same jobs as college graduates–directly after high school if they so choose. Our first school will build career paths to the technology sector. However, each school of 240 students will be its own unique pipeline to a high-growth industry sector. Learn more about our educational model here.


In the Press

Listen to Rooted’s Founder and CEO, Jonathan Johnson describe where the concept for Rooted came from with NPR’s Michel Martin. And for more background on Rooted, click here.

Also featured in

FastCompany: “Public education is not creating a way out for kids like we need it to be,” says Johnson. “We have to figure out how to serve these kids in different ways.” Read more.

Forbes: “Rooted School aims to bridge the gap between what’s being taught in high schools and what skills are needed for the jobs being created in Greater New Orleans’ high-growth, high-wage industries.” Read more.

The Hechinger Report: “[Rooted School] even may be able to offer students an income while in high school through internships with various local tech companies that work in search engine optimization, marketing, and software development.” Read more.


When one of his eighth grade students was murdered during a drug deal in 2012, Jonathan Johnson set out to re-imagine the purpose of school.

Aiming to become the first in his family to graduate college, Ricky Summers effectively closed a four year achievement gap by the time he saw Johnson. Surrounded by award-winning teachers and educated in one of the most celebrated charter school networks in the country, Summers was on track to overcome the odds set against him coming from Central City, New Orleans.

Until a bullet on a spring night overcame him during a drug deal gone bad.

At his funeral, a community member read the results of his state testing and Summers was on track to receive a TOPS Scholarship—full tuition to any state university in Louisiana.

In spite of all the support Summers had in the pursuit of college, none of it was enough to protect him from the effects of poverty that embattled his community. So it became Johnson’s mission to build a school that could beat the streets in the fight for students’ lives.

Through an opportunity launched by New Schools for New Orleans and 4.0 Schools in 2014, Johnson set out to build Rooted School. Grounded in a belief that financial freedom can have a rippling impact in dismantling the effects of poverty on a student’s life, Rooted aims to fast-track students like Ricky to the most in-demand and high-paying local industries—with or without a college degree.



Rooted’s Mission

We exist to provide our students personal pathways to financial freedom. 

Rooted’s Promise

We exist to see our students financially free.

Some will get there with a college next to their name. Others without.

Some will come to our doors already born into it. Others won’t.

Our job is not to decide how they get there. It is to provide them options for how they get there.

So we provide options that teach them how to learn in an ever-changing world, develop their skill sets in the most in-demand job sectors, and create technology that transforms communities as we know them.

Our first school offers opportunities for students across the digital sector.

Many students will graduate with highly sought for jobs in tech—paying well above the local median.

Many students will go onto college with a refined purpose and context for being there.

All will leave with a job offer in one hand and a college acceptance letter in the other.

Rooted’s Values

  1. We push ourselves to grow at all times.
  2. We are prepared.
  3. We put people first.
  4. We push the limits of what’s possible.
  5. We never forget where we come from.


Q. How is Rooted School different?

It starts with our mission, we’re trying to get high school students as competitive for high-tech jobs as college graduates. That’s ambitious but we and our industry partners believe it’s possible.

To do this, we’ve made several adjustments to our school’s approach. Some adjustments may look similar to the typical high school. Some adjustments won’t. All adjustments were made with the goal of being “as competitive” in heart and mind.

Some key differences we’ll highlight are these:

Students have school for 192 days with spaced out week-long breaks throughout. We know it’s more than what’s expected from the state but it’s what we think is necessary.

By the time students graduate from Rooted, they will have at least (4) industry-recognized credentials in technology if they work for it–not too shabby.

Students progress through their required courses online and at their own pace, mostly. Expert teachers are not far if they need additional support.

Half of our curriculum is co-created with our industry partners–we have (16) and counting. This guarantees that Rooted students are prepared to take entry-level positions–you know, the ones that college graduates apply for–by the end of twelfth grade. 

If our students take these jobs after high school making roughly $60,000 a year, they will save $38,000 in student loans they would’ve paid for a public university. 

We don’t want to share the loans saved from a private university. You’d probably close this page. 

Our students will earn $30,000 more in salary after their first eight years from graduating than their peers who went directly to college or didn’t go to Rooted altogether. And the difference in yearly earnings will continue to widen–on average.

We’ll stop here. Are you beginning to see what’s different?

Q. What does a typical day at Rooted School look like?

School days look different depending on the Session students are in. 

Sessions 1 and 7 days look like this:

9:00-9:20: Morning Stand-up–a time when we gather as a Rooted community to announce things

9:25-10:25: Tech Block–a time when our students progress toward earning their Treehouse Techdegree

10:25-12:25: Morning Academics Block–a time when our students work on a specific subject course at their own pace

12:25-1:25: Lunch + Physical Fitness

1:30-3:30: Afternoon Academics Block or Work Experience Block– a time when our students work on another subject course at their own pace or work with one of our industry partners 

Session 2 through 6 days look like this:

School goes from 9am-5pm, like the average work day for an adult.

9:00-9:20: Morning Stand-up–a time when we gather as a Rooted community to announce things

9:25-11:25: Morning Academics Block–a time when our students work on their English and History courses at their own pace

11:25-12:25: Rooted Seminar + Lunch–a time when we formally onboard our students to Rooted’s culture

12:25-2:25: Afternoon Academics Block– a time when our students work on their Math and Science courses at their own pace 

2:25-4:25:Tech Block–a time when our students switch between industry-focused project classes and progressing toward earning their Treehouse Techdegree 

4:30-5:00: Physical Fitness

Q. Does Rooted also prepare students for college?

Yes. We just also prepare them to go directly into high-growth, high-wage industries in tech.

Q. What types of tech industry-recognized credentials will students earn?

Treehouse Techdegrees in Front-End Web Development, Back-End Web Development, Data Science, AR/VR, and others if they choose.

Certifications in Google AdWords and Google Analytics if they choose.

Certifications in 3D Printing and Scanning if they choose. 

We will offer other other credentials once we show success with these. Please stay tuned.

Q. Where will Rooted School be located?

We’re deciding between several locations at the moment, though we aim to be as close to downtown as possible since that’s where most of our industry partners are. Our current office is located in the Warehouse District.

Q. When will Rooted School’s start date be?

August 1, 2017 and we couldn’t be happier.