Niazi "Ryan" Banks was a happy-go-lucky 12-year-old boy who was always seen with a big smile on his face. Ryan was enthusiastic, full of life, always curious and loved to make others laugh. He was one of the happiest seventh graders to ever walk the hallways of New Sullivan Elementary School, on Chicago's far east side. But on May 19, 2012 Ryan Banks was killed by gunfire just outside his home.
Years later his social worker wanted desperately to build a community of learners who might be insulated from the violence Ryan faced, while providing the kind of 24/7 stimulating and rigorous environment academic environment and social/emotional support that is reserved for the very wealthy and privileged.
The idea for a Chicago-based boarding school was born. Welcome to The Ryan Banks Academy Initiative.
In September 2018, Ryan Banks Academy, a new middle school and high school, will open its doors and transform urban education. The Ryan Banks Academy mission is to build Chicago’s first residential school for urban youth. In our first 1-2 years, we will begin as a day school/boarding school hybrid model, where our students attend day school at Ryan Banks Academy, plus our school year will include multiple extended field trips which will allow our students to explore new environments and cultures. During this time, we will be constructing our permanent campus which will include dormitories for our students and residential housing for our staff.
Ryan Banks Academy will combine a high-quality, future-facing curriculum with an integrated social emotional education in order to provide the launching pad for students out of poverty and into the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and world-changers. We will provide students with an exceptional education combined with a 24/7 living environment that addresses the needs of the whole students. Our curriculum is based on the principles of experiential and expeditionary adventure learning with a focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). We also heavily emphasize the importance of social emotional learning, and we pride ourselves on our ability to provide exceptional social emotional support services to our students that go above and beyond that of competitor schools. Ryan Banks Academy takes a strengths-based approach to learning and building confidence, and believes that each and every one of our students has a legacy within them to change the world.
Our first class will launch with 7th grade students Fall 2018. The following school year, Ryan Banks Academy will add two new classes of seventh grade students. Each year, we will add an additional grade so that we will have the capacity to serve a total of 240 students between 7th-12th grades, and we will meet maximum capacity by Year 7. We are a registered 501(c)3 organization.