REAL Journey Academies: New Vision Middle School & Entrepreneur High School

Red Hook’s partnership with RJA transformed an old Kmart into an impressive campus

Project Overview

REAL Journey Academies’ (RJA) schools transform their communities by raising expectations for achievement, offering a high level of opportunity, and educating the next generation of leaders. Many of its students live in a single-family home with a 68% high school graduation rate. Almost 85% of the current student body are economically disadvantaged students.

In order to close the student achievement gap, RJA identifies the students in the most need and deploys the necessary resources to help them succeed, including 1:1 computer access in classrooms, computer coding classes and robotics. RJA has also worked diligently to grow its external partnerships, becoming a resource for the community. Furthermore, the school is recruiting new board members from the community to foster local business and community relationships.

RJA’s property was formerly a dilapidated Kmart big box store and was vacant for over a decade. To help RJA open the school, Red Hook address three major challenges: 1) we closed on the property in less than four months, and finished construction in less than eight months; 2) we worked with neighboring tenants, including a big box store and AT&T, to get approval for a school to operate in a commercial strip mall; and 3) we led a herculean effort to manage utility work (sewer, electricity, etc.) with the city and utility companies to ensure opening at the start of school year.