In 2012, Rooted Founder, Jonathan Johnson lost one of his 8th grade students. His student, 16 at the time, was shot near his home in the Central City neighborhood during a drug deal.
Before his untimely death, Jonathan’s student was on his way to becoming the first in his family to graduate college and receive a TOPS Scholarship for his academic achievement. This scholarship covers full tuition to any state university in Louisiana. The scholarship would be a game-changer for this young man and for his family once he graduated. Jonathan’s student excelled in school and had big ambitions, yet this was not enough to protect him from the deleterious effects of poverty. This story is not unique. It is the unfortunate reality of students in our country's most under-served communities.
This tragic loss inspired Jonathan to build a new kind of school.
Meanwhile, Jonathan saw another problem in New Orleans. He noticed that the highest-paying and most in-demand jobs in the city were in the digital sector. Greater New Orleans Inc. reported that there were more than 7,000 jobs expected to open in the digital sector over the next ten years. Most local companies also reported that New Orleans does not have the consistent local talent-base to supply this growing need. This dearth of talent leaves companies with only two options -- move the company or find talent from elsewhere.
Jonathan saw an opportunity to move students toward financial freedom and, at the same time, help the city's economy thrive. Rooted School was the result -- a school that could simultaneously prepare students for college and careers.
Rooted School has the bold vision to close the academic achievement gap and the wealth gap in our lifetime. Rooted's mission is to equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to compete for the fastest-growing and the highest-paying jobs in their communities either with or without a college degree.
With the support of New Schools for New Orleans,4.0 Schools, and Camelback Ventures, Jonathan set out to build Rooted School.
In the fall of 2017, Rooted School opened its doors to 40 New Orleans students.