UofM’s University High School receives $445K competitive national school start-up grant

June 20, 2022 — The University of Memphis has received a $445,000 new school launch grant from NewSchools Venture Fund to support the opening of the University High School. University High will open on campus in the Orgel Educational Center this fall with its inaugural class of 100 freshmen.

NewSchools makes investments to support leaders who are creating innovative public schools that embrace an expanded definition of student success. These schools provide students with a strong academic foundation along with other mindsets, skills and habits needed for success in life.

The high school is the latest addition to the University’s growing school compendium, which includes the  Lipman Early Learning & Research Center; Blue Ribbon-designated Campus School; University Middle; and early childhood partnerships with the Harwood Center and the Porter Leath University of Memphis Early Childhood Academy in Orange Mound. Collectively these schools serve over 1000 local students from more than 35 zip codes and provide teacher and practitioner training programs, research opportunities and practical experience for hundreds of University of Memphis students, faculty and staff each year.

One of the University Schools most unique attributes is that they do not have an academic requirement for entry, yet consistently have some of the most academically high-performing schools in the city.

“University High is a critical piece of our school compendium, rounding out our goal of providing a high-quality educational experience for children at every level of their educational journey,” said Dr. Sally Parish, UofM associate vice president for Educational Initiatives. “One of the most unique aspects of University High is the incredible access and preparation it provides for our students. We are removing traditional barriers many students experience when trying to access a college education, and what better place to do that than at the University of Memphis.”

The addition of a laboratory high school allows for the University to continue expanding its reach into the community by providing quality, collaborative, innovative education focusing on the cultivation of 21st-century skills. Students will graduate from University High with between 15 and 36 hours of college credit, at no cost to their families.

“We are extremely proud that we have the support of the University of Memphis and local Memphis community as we launch University High,” said Dr. Kristle Hodges Johnson, founding executive director of University High School. “We couldn’t be more excited to share that NewSchools Venture Fund so deeply believes in what we are doing and has committed to supporting our innovative lab school model.”

Hodges Johnson has spent the entire month of June meeting with founding families and students.

“I am confident that this diverse and impressive group of young leaders from all over the city will radically change what people believe is possible from public schools in Memphis,” said Hodges Johnson.

Parish added, “What we are doing at University High has the potential to redefine the high school experience. Our students are ready for the challenge.”

University High will open for its first day of classes on Aug. 8.