Pastor Charles Jenkins is the leader of the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago, a rapidly growing multi-location congregation founded by civil rights pioneer Reverend Clay Evans, and he has seen how education can influence and change a person’s life. He has gone beyond the pulpit to help develop a new charter school in Chicago. The school will be located in the Chatham neighborhood at the Legacy Project site. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Board of Education has approved the school, which will be part of Concept Schools, and the project is moving forward.
Pastor Jenkins’ vision with this educational center is to help inspire youth. The school will be located at 85th and Lafayette and based on a doctrine of the STEM education concept. STEM is an acronym referring to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In support of STEM education President Obama once stated, “Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today - especially in science, technology, engineering and math."
In addition to being an important community concept, Pastor Jenkins views this as a crucial way to prepare today’s youth for tomorrow’s technical jobs. Concept Schools collected 1,477 signed petitions to present to the Board of Education as a sign of community support for the idea. The school is set to open in the fall of 2014, and it will initially have an elementary school and middle school. There are plans to expand it every year to reach 700 students, so a high school is included in the future. Concept Schools will be leasing from the Legacy Project and has offered to pay $1 million in rent per year.
Pastor Jenkins credits his mother with the inspiration that has catapulted his evangelical career along with his interest in philanthropy and education. He views the new charter school as a crucial part of the development in the Chatham area that is necessary to change the neighborhood for the better.