Proposed Sussex charter school receives anonymous $100,000 donation

GEORGETOWN – An anonymous donor has contributed six-figure support for the proposed Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence, which has a planned 2022 opening.

BASSE announced this week it has received a $100,000 grant from a Sussex County graduate who wishes to remain anonymous.

“BASSE is working to re-imagine societal systems by harnessing the power of the education system of the U.S. to become a place where we can create possibilities of reconciliation and repair,” said Alonna Berry, founder and co-chair of BASSE. “We are incredibly grateful for this donor’s generosity and the example they are setting that encourages students to consider the impacts they can make in their home communities, now and in the future. BASSE believes in helping students learn to pay it forward through service, education, and impact.”

Structured as a free, public charter high school focused on service learning, the school is slated to open in Georgetown in fall 2022. It must go through the charter application approval process through the Delaware Department of Education.

According to DOE spokeswoman Alison May, Bryan Stevenson School of Excellence has not yet applied for a charter. DOE’s next application window is this Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. The earliest schools approved in that cycle could open would be 2022.

In partnership with the Richard Allen School Coalition, BASSE will be housed at the Richard Allen School in Georgetown for its initial years.

BASSE is raising $5 million for the first-phase of its capital campaign. Recently, it received a lead corporate gift of $10,000 from Delmarva Power and $10,000 from Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor, in addition to ongoing community support.

“BASEE will partner with community businesses as part of our service-learning curriculum that will allow students to have real, hands-on work experience,” said Ms. Berry.

BASSE is named in honor of Bryan Stevenson, a prolific social justice activist and lawyer originally from Milton. Mr. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. He and his staff have won reversals, relief or release for over 125 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row.

The Equal Justice Initiative has also initiated anti-poverty and anti- discrimination efforts that challenge the legacy of racial inequality in America, including major projects to educate communities about slavery, lynching and racial segregation.

Mr. Stevenson is a professor of law at New York University and is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy, which was recently adapted into a feature film of the same name starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.