In 2012, Rooted Founder Jonathan Johnson lost one of his 8th grade students. Ricky, 16, was shot near his home in the Central City neighborhood during a drug deal.
Before his untimely death, Ricky was on his way to become 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 Ricky and his family once he graduated. Ricky excelled in school and had big ambitions, yet this was not enough to protect him from the effects of poverty in his community. Ricky's story is not unique. It is the unfortunate reality of students in our country's most underserved 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. The kinds of jobs that Ricky could look forward to once he graduated college. Greater New Orleans Inc. reported that there are more than 7,000 jobs expected to open in the digital sector over the next ten years. Most local companies also state that New Orleans does not have the consistent local talent-base to supply the growing need. The dearth of skilled talent leaves companies with two options: move the company or find talent from elsewhere.
Jonathan saw an opportunity to move students further towards financial freedom and help his city's economy thrive, faster. Rooted School was the result. A school that could prepare students for college and for the careers of the future, at the same time.
Rooted School has the bold vision to close the wealth gap in our lifetime.
With the support of New Schools for New Orleans and 4.0 Schools, Jonathan set out to build Rooted School. Rooted equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to compete for the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs in their community and beyond--with or without a college degree.
In the fall of 2017, Rooted School opened its doors to 40 New Orleans students.