Mary McLeod Bethune, a fierce advocate of education for African Americans, had a mantra that suggests, “As we climb, we lift.”
Jalen Rose embodies this ethos on a daily basis, especially when it comes to his hometown. He has always represented Detroit in his role as an analyst for ESPN/ABC, on his successful podcast/T.V. show Jalen and Jacoby, and anywhere you can find him, but Rose does more than just give lip service. His popularity was first generated as a basketball star and later a popular sports commentator, but then Rose used his time and talents to give back to the “Motor City” through his work with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and its thousands of students. The greatest investment he’s ever made is in the lives of the people and the city of his birth by establishing JRLA.
From the outset, it was Rose’s mission to make a transformative investment by providing quality educational opportunities to the underserved African American population of Detroit. He’s well aware that the pathway of success begins with a great education. Wendie Lewis, who serves as principal of JRLA notes in a video for BET’s Offseason celebrating Black History Month in partnership with Facebook, “Jalen Rose is a hometown hero. He had a mission to create a school in the neighborhood in which he was born and raised, and he did that.”
Although he has a demanding schedule, Rose still finds the time to be more than a figurehead. He invests his resources and his presence which has launched JRLA as a premiere educational institution.
“His name is not just on the school marquee, but he really does make an effort to be involved, to know what’s going on, to meet our needs, and to find resources to meet our needs,” says Malika Velinor, dean of College Success at JRLA. Rose and his team have cultivated an environment that’s conducive for the flourishing of Black children. Now, that’s a worthwhile investment.
A Chinese proverb says, “If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.” Without question, Rose has done this through JRLA, changing the lives of countless families for the better.