North Carolina man building boarding school for overlooked Black teens

Frankie Roberts is an advocate for impoverished teenagers who don’t have daily academic support.

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A North Carolina man will soon make his longtime dream of building a boarding school for at-risk Black teens a reality. 

Frankie Roberts is an advocate for recently incarcerated individuals and impoverished teenagers who don’t have daily academic support at home. He told Port City Daily, “Typically, rich people send their kids to boarding school when they don’t have time to raise them,” but noted that the kids he teaches through various day programs have parents who “don’t have the resources or are working too many jobs and don’t have the time, but not out of intention.”

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Roberts is the founder of the nonprofit Leading Into New Communities (LINC), which provides shelter and services for individuals re-entering society after serving a prison stint. He pulled from his own educational journey in both the private and public school system as inspiration to launch a boarding school for kids who are in need of encouragement to be the “very best you can be,” Roberts said. 

Last year, the city donated the defunct Wilmington Fire Department station at 3933 Princess Place which will serve as the location for the boarding school. In the coming months, the council will review Roberts’ rezoning and special-use permits. After approval, he said it could take a little under two years to open the doors to the boarding school. 

Once the city gives Roberts the go-ahead, he plans to begin the $2 million renovations. It’s likely to cost $1 million annually to maintain the boarding school’s daily operations, according to Roberts. The staff will include a headmaster, up to 12 employees as well as coaches and mentors.

The school will receive funding through grants and admission to the 14-month program is free. Roberts says 10 to 12 pupils will be enrolled at the boarding school which will “consist of five main components: education, career development and graduate resources, case management, instruction and technology training and leadership,” per Port City News.

Students are required to perform yard work for local residents to build up a strong work ethic and philanthropy skills.

“It’s part of recognizing and showing these young men, if you don’t work, you don’t eat,” Roberts said.

Students will also get to explore unique experiences outside of the community through weekend field trips. 

Acceptance into the boarding school is via a referral basis through LINC’s L.I.T.E. program, its community resource officers, or the juvenile justice system.

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