REVEREND DR. DARRYL CANADY HOLDS UP THE CHECK SIGNIFYING THE $1.5 MILLION GRANT AWARDED TO HIS CHARTER SCHOOL, LIFE MALE STEAM ACADEMY.
Talk about a game-changer.
The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that LIFE Male STEAM Academy, a public charter school located at 777 Penn Center Blvd. in Wilkins Township, has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Pennsylvania Charter Schools Program.
Reverend Dr. Darryl Canady, senior pastor of Rodman Street Baptist Church and co-founder of LIFE Male STEAM Academy along with his wife, Taleeta Canady, told the Courier that he had applied for the grant in two previous years, but the school wasn’t chosen.
This year, though, they got the call that they were one of just three schools to get the grant.
“What this allows us to do are some of the things that need to be done (at the school), from infrastructure, to staffing, all to help get these boys to the level that we really need them to be at,” Rev. Canady said.
OFFICIALS AT LIFE MALE STEAM ACADEMY CELEBRATE THE $1.5 MILLION GRANT.
LIFE Male STEAM Academy just completed its second year in operation, after being granted a charter to operate the school beginning July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2025. The Woodland Hills School District Board of Directors approved the charter in 2019.
The school has 90 male students in grades 6-8.
Reverend Canady told the Courier that 13 years ago, he began a program at Rodman Street Baptist Church called the “March Madness Men’s Revival,” where he would meet with Black men at the church each Monday. “But unfortunately, several of them were murdered,” Rev. Canady revealed.
“We gotta get to them when they’re young,” Rev. Canady said to himself at the time.
On a subsequent September 11th, “God spoke to me, a 9-1-1 call, God told me you gotta save the boys,” Rev. Canady said. “That night, he told me to start a school. I didn’t go to sleep the entire night.”
Reverend Canady said that night, God gave him the name of the school, the mascot (Kings), the colors (purple and black), and the curriculum. The Eden Hall Foundation and The Heinz Endowments awarded the Canadys a “planning grant” that totaled $50,000 to visit different all-boys schools across the country that centered around STEM. The Canadys racked up the frequent flyer miles, traveling to Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Oakland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Cleveland, New York, and Washington, D.C., among others. Reverend Canady said he saw how in a school in Chicago, every boy was referred to as “Mister,” not just their first name. The reverend saw how morning assemblies were done, such as in Charles Drew STEAM Academy in Atlanta.
Eventually, the LIFE Male STEAM Academy became a reality.
THERE ARE 90 MALE STUDENTS AT LIFE MALE STEAM ACADEMY. THE 2023-24 SCHOOL YEAR WILL BE ITS THIRD YEAR IN OPERATION.
“L.I.F.E.” stands for “Living Intelligently. Fulfilling Expectations.” It is based on the philosophy that there is a critical need to teach at-risk male scholars from underrepresented and disadvantaged communities how to use technology in a way that fosters their own creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative problem-solving skills, according to a release from the school. LIFE Male STEAM Academy says it nurtures scholars through inquiry-based and project-based science, technology, engineering, arts, and math education, which provides an academic framework that has proven effective in preparing male scholars for college success and career readiness.
Reverend Canady said the grant funds will specifically be used to support achieving the academic goal of having at least 60 percent of the students, known as “scholars,” scoring at the Proficient level or better on the PSSA Math/Algebra I assessment and 78 percent of scholars scoring at the Proficient level or better on the PSSA English Language Arts assessment by the end of the 2025-26 school year.
“This school is built for their sons and grandsons as an equalizer, because I know what education did for me as an equalizer,” Rev. Canady told the Courier, when asked why LIFE Male STEAM Academy should be considered by parents as a school for their male children. “Not only in academics, but we’re a model for them, we mentor them, help them see themselves in a different light. ‘If I can see it, I can be it.’”