Urban LIFT Academies

Empowering urban students through better education.
Promoting Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and Truth.

Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas
of what is falsely called knowledge. (1 Timothy 6:20b)

Welcome & Overview

  • Vision: To create a network of inner-city church schools within large cities across the United States that will give young people a far better and more well-rounded education than what they receive in failing inner-city public schools.

  • Why do we need more schools? Our nation's public schools systematically fail inner-city students in many ways. Beyond the humanistic, anti-God focus of public schools in general, inner-city schools tend to do a very poor job of teaching critical thinking and practical life skills. Many students graduate while still lacking basic reading and math skills.

  • Are public schools really that bad? Yes, they are. Many inner-city schools suffer from poor attendance, an abundance of fights and bullying, mediocre teachers that cannot be fired due to teachers' unions, and even buildings that are in disrepair. Statistics such as graduation rates and accreditation labels are often used to make things appear better than they really are. To be fair, there are some public schools that accomplish some good things, but most inner-city public schools are overflowing with problems.

  • What are Urban LIFT Academies? This is a grassroots movement started by someone with a background in inner-city public education. The primary goal is to help young people in inner-city areas to receive a better education in a better environment, compared to inner-city public schools. Urban LIFT Academies are intended to be small schools lead by caring, godly adults, located within church buildings in inner-city areas and operated at a very low cost, to make better urban education freely accessible to everyone.

  • Who can these schools help? Those who have the opportunity to attend a Christian school or homeschool should thank God for that blessing and take advantage of it. Unfortunately, the reality for most inner-city kids and teens is that they have no realistic option besides public school--and the government and teachers' unions have made it very difficult to escape. For those students, Urban LIFT Academies are intended to be a far better option.

Costs

  • How much does it cost to open an Urban LIFT Academy? This is a grassroots movement--not an organization that is seeking money. There are no fees. This website simply exists as a guide to help you get started. Of course, there are certain costs involved for things such as buying books and supplying meals. Expenses that you or your church can expect to have are outlined below.

  • Estimated Expenses:
    • Year 1: The total cost of curriculum materials for your school's first year of operation should be around $850 plus $75 per student.
    • Year 2 and Year 3: The total cost of additional curriculum materials during your school's next two years of operation should be around $120 plus $40 per student, per year.
    • After that, all materials will be reused, and additional curriculum expenses would only come from replacing worn-out copies or buying additional copies if your school grows. In order to reuse materials, students should never write in their books but always on separate paper.

  • What other expenses are there? The church should also take care of expenses for utilities, insurance, school supplies, and meals for students. Be aware that some of these costs, especially meals, may cost more than you expect--but healthy meals are one of the most important things you can provide for your students. Hopefully, these expenses can be paid for from your church budget or from special offerings from members. If your church needs help with expenses, seek out donations from businesses and organizations in your community.

Legality

  • How can I start a school? Thankfully, most states have surprisingly limited regulations for private schools. There are a handful of states where establishing this type of school may be difficult, but in the vast majority of states, establishing a private Christian school within an existing church building is actually fairly easy.

  • Does my school have to be accredited? In most states, accreditation is not required. While the hope behind this movement is to provide a solid education for inner-city students, accreditation is an additional, significant expense that is unnecessary. Many quality private schools are not accredited, mainly due to the expense. In reality, the label "accredited" sounds more impressive than it actually is. Even sending your child to an accredited public school does not mean that your child will receive a good education. Accreditation alone cannot tell much about the quality of education a student will receive at a certain school.

  • What are the details for my state? Click here to learn more about the rules and regulations involved in starting a private school in your state!

Suggested School Structure

  • Anyone in a leadership or teaching position must have professed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and must live in a way that demonstrates a changed life and love for Jesus, because "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26b) and "a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit" (Matthew 7:18).

  • Select a principal. This could be the church pastor, an elder or deacon, or any church member in good standing who is led of God to lead this endeavor. This person should be in charge of discipline situations and of attendance records. Due to compulsory attendance laws, daily attendance must be accurately recorded, and reported to your state as required.

  • Who can teach? Anyone who has a desire to work with and positively influence children and teenagers can teach. Regardless of impressive-sounding titles and college degrees, it is better for students to be taught by well-intentioned, godly men and women than by humanistic public school teachers who will work to indoctrinate children with an evolution-based, anti-God worldview. (While there are still some good public school teachers who do not fall into that category, they are definitely not in the majority.)

  • Choose teachers. Retired people often have much wisdom to pass along while also having the time to devote to this task. People who work unusual schedules, stay-at-home moms, parents of the students in your school, and anyone else who is willing and able can become a teacher or an aide at your school, even if only for one day per week.

  • A minimum of 1 teacher for every 8 students is recommended. For accountability and transparency in our modern-day culture, one student should never be alone with one teacher. Teachers and students should be allowed to keep their cell phones at all times to help prevent false accusations and to keep everyone accountable for their actions.

  • Who will handle other responsibilities? Adults and/or students may be given responsibility for other routine tasks such as cooking meals and cleaning the church building. Students can learn responsibility if they are assigned some of these tasks, as long as they are assigned fairly.

  • Split the school year into 4 nine-week quarters, and keep records of final grades for each quarter. This is especially important for high school students, who will be able to earn 7 credits each year (Bible, history, P.E., culture, science, math, and reading) plus any electives.

Suggested School Rules

  • Tip: Keep rules simple, straightforward, and unburdensome. It is generally better to have fewer rules than to have a lot of rules. You may choose to add or remove rules based on the needs of your particular school. A simple starting point is provided below.
  1. Honor God and respect others in the way you speak and act.

  2. Respect God and your body by staying away from harmful substances, risky activities, and immodest clothing.

  3. Failure to adhere to these rules will result in a meeting with the principal and one or more teachers. Repeated violations could result in expulsion from this school. However, it is our hope to never expel any students but instead to help all students develop God-honoring behavior over time.
  • Click here for a printable version of these rules.
  • Click here for an editable Word document of these rules.

Suggested Daily Schedule

  • This schedule is provided as a suggestion; you are free to create a different schedule if you prefer. However, keep in mind the unique needs of inner-city students. Many have challenging family situations while others must work to help support their families. To allow for some students who may arrive late or who need to leave early, the core of instruction is given from 9:30 through 2:00, with flexible time for independent work before and after.

  • Generally, students in grades 3-11 will be together, learning at their own levels. Students in grade 12 will work independently, and may also help lead and tutor other students, depending on the individual student's interests and abilities.

  • Suggested Schedule:
    8:30 - 9:30Breakfast & Math, Reading, Electives
    9:30 - 9:45Praise & Prayer Time
    9:45 - 10:30Bible
    10:30 - 11:15History
    11:15 - 12:00P.E. / Games
    12:00 - 12:30Lunch
    12:30 - 1:15Current Issues
    1:15 - 2:00Science & Worldview
    2:00 - 3:30Math, Reading, Electives

  • Click here for a printable version of this schedule.
  • Click here for an editable Word document of this schedule.

  • Most states require a school year of 180 days. Be sure your school meets any requirements in your specific state.

Books and Materials

  • With your basic structure in place, the next step is to order materials. Click on each of the "subject" tabs at the top of the page to view recommended textbooks for each subject area. You need to have a general idea of the number of students you expect so that you will know how many books to order.

Unable to Start a School?

  • While this website exists for the purpose of making it as simple and straightforward as possible to start a small Christian school, there will be some situations where it simply isn't possible.

  • Perhaps the money just isn't there, or there aren't enough people to properly operate a school. If you are in that situation, a good alternative plan is to start an after-school program or a summer program.

  • Depending on your state, there could be legal restrictions as well. Those restrictions would not apply to an after-school or summer program, which would operate just like any other church activity, outside of the regular public school day.

Suggested Structure

  • Leaders and rules should be developed in a similar manner as described within the previous tab, but the schedule will be shorter and more flexible.

  • For such a program, the best subjects to focus on are Bible, Culture (during lunch or snack time), and Science. These are the areas where students will gain the most, because those subjects are not taught properly (or at all) in public schools. Refer to those subject tabs for further details.

  • Providing students with meals and/or snacks that are healthy yet good-tasting is probably the best way to interest them in attending. Some of your students may not have easy access to well-rounded meals, and even for those who do, offering good food can be a motivating factor in helping students come regularly.

Praise & Prayer Time:

  • Before each day's Bible lesson begins, start with a brief time of praise and prayer. Sing a few songs together and lead the students in a time of prayer. You may even want to allow time for students to share personal testimonies.

Bible (Grades 3-11) - What to Order:

  • You will have access to a free, 3-year curriculum for all ages to learn together that is currently in development. The plan is for the first year to be available by summer 2020.
  • This curriculum will be reused every 3 years.

Bible - How to Teach:

  • Students in grades 3-11 will all learn together.
  • Students will take turns reading 1 verse at a time from the day's Bible passage.
  • The pastor, principal, or a teacher should then lead a short discussion about the passage and answer any big questions that students may have.
  • After that, students should work individually or in small groups to answer the questions for their grade level in written form.
  • Be sure adults are available to help students who are having a hard time understanding any of the questions.

Bible - Grading:

  • Award grades every 9 weeks according to this simple structure:
  • F - less than half the work is completed or the student had excessive absences without a legitimate reason.
  • D - at least 1/2 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
  • C - at least 3/4 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
  • B - at least 90% of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
  • A - at least 90% of assignments are complete with exceptional effort.

History (Grades 3-11) - What to Order:

History - How to Teach:

  • Students in grades 3-11 will all learn together.
  • This curriculum is structured in 9 units that last 4 weeks each. Each week is called a phase.
    • Week 1 (Phase 1): Read aloud from the textbook, with students reading 1 sentence at a time. (You may want to split the reading between several days, reading 2-4 pages each day.) Complete "Listen to This", "Read for Your Life" (all or part of the passages listed), and "Talk Together". At the end of the week, each student should complete the self-evaluation on separate paper.
    • Week 2 (Phase 2): Many different options are listed. Each student should pick one to complete. Fast-working students may complete more than one. The timeline and self-evaluation should also be completed on separate paper.
    • Week 3 (Phase 3): Depending on what materials you have and what your students find interesting, pick (or allow students to pick) which art, music, and/or cooking activities to do during this week. The self-evaluation should also be completed on separate paper. (If you ran out of time during week 1, finish the reading and/or listening activities during this week.)
    • Week 4 (Phase 4): Many different options are listed. Each student should pick one to complete. Fast-working students may complete more than one. The self-evaluation should also be completed on separate paper.
  • Be sure adults are available to help students who need any help.

History - Grading:

  • Award grades every 9 weeks according to this simple structure:
  • F - less than half the work is completed or the student had excessive absences without a legitimate reason.
  • D - at least 1/2 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
  • C - at least 3/4 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
  • B - at least 90% of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
  • A - at least 90% of assignments are complete with exceptional effort.

P.E. - How to Teach:

  • Depending on the facilities that are available to you, allow students to play outside, in a gym, or in some other open area. If large areas are not available to you, find other activities that students can do in small spaces. Games can also be played on certain days, such as when it is raining.

P.E. - Grading:

  • Award grades every 9 weeks according to this simple structure:
  • F - student does not participate often or has poor attendance.
  • D - student has fair participation with fair attendance OR has good participation with poor attendance.
  • C - student has good participation with fair attendance.
  • B - student participates regularly and has good attendance.
  • A - student participates regularly and has outstanding attendance.

Lunch:

  • Although this may turn into a fairly significant portion of your ongoing expenses, providing students with a healthy yet good-tasting lunch is extremely important. Some of your students may not have easy access to well-rounded meals, and even for those who do, offering good food can be a motivating factor in helping students come to school regularly.
  • Teachers, parents, or another designated adult can take the lead in the kitchen. Any older students who have expressed an interest in cooking should be encouraged to help.
  • (Similarly, serving a quality breakfast each morning may also give students something to look forward to and could encourage them to get to school on time.)

Culture - What to Order:

  • All Students: There are no materials to order, but you do need the ability to show brief videos and news stories to your students.

Culture - How to Teach:

  • After lunch, play 1 or 2 short videos (suggestions below) and lead a time of discussion.
  • Then, read 1 or 2 current news articles from Disrn and lead another time of discussion.
  • The purpose of this time is to help students better understand some of the current issues and debates in our culture.
  • Culture - Grading:

    • Award grades every 9 weeks according to this simple structure:
    • F - student does not participate often or has poor attendance.
    • D - student has fair participation with fair attendance OR has good participation with poor attendance.
    • C - student has good participation with fair attendance.
    • B - student participates regularly and has good attendance.
    • A - student participates regularly and has outstanding attendance.

    Science (Grades 3-8) - What to Order:

    Science (Grades 9-11) - What to Order:

    Science - How to Teach:

    • Grades 3-8: This curriculum is structured into 35 short lessons plus occasional special features. One lesson or special feature should be covered each day. Students can take turns reading sections of the text aloud, then they should work in small groups to answer the questions on separate paper. Younger children (grades 3-5) should be included in groups with older children (grades 6-8). You may elect to do some of the activities and experiments (depending on available time and materials) or you may show a video of experiments being done instead.

    • Grades 9-11 (1st Semester): During the first semester, students will watch lessons on video and take quizzes about the material they have learned. Supplemental workbooks (with worksheets that can be copied) are also recommended for occasional use to reinforce concepts as time allows.

    • Grades 9-11 (2nd Semester): Students will watch a variety of supplemental videos (the same videos will be repeated each year), followed by a time of discussion. Students should write a paragraph response for each of these videos.

    • Be sure adults are available to help students who are having a hard time understanding any of the questions.

    Science - Grading:

    • Award grades every 9 weeks according to this simple structure:
    • F - less than half the work is completed or the student had excessive absences without a legitimate reason.
    • D - at least 1/2 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • C - at least 3/4 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • B - at least 90% of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • A - at least 90% of assignments are complete with exceptional effort.

    Math - What to Order:

    Math - How to Teach:

    • All students will complete their math assignments independently.
    • Be sure adults are available to help students who are having a hard time understanding any of the questions.
    • Students who are more advanced in math can also help those who have more difficulty.

    Math - Grading:

    • Grades 3-8: Students should complete about 40 lessons during each 9-week period.
    • Grade 9: Students should complete about 20 lessons during each 9-week period.
    • Grade 10: Students should complete half of each book during each 9-week period.
    • Grade 11: Students should complete about 25 lessons during each 9-week period.
    • Grade 12: Students should complete about 12 lessons during each 9-week period.

    • Award grades every 9 weeks according to this simple structure:
    • F - less than half the work is completed or the student had excessive absences without a legitimate reason.
    • D - at least 1/2 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • C - at least 3/4 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • B - at least 90% of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • A - at least 90% of assignments are complete with exceptional effort.

    Reading - What to Order:

    Reading - How to Teach:

    • All students will complete their reading assignments independently.
    • Be sure adults are available to help students who are having a hard time with reading comprehension.
    • Students who are more advanced in reading can also help those who have more difficulty.

    Reading - Grading:

    • Grades 3-11: Students should read at least 20 stories during each 9-week period, answering the questions at the end of each story.
    • Grade 12: Students should read the book(s) shown for each 9-week period and write a 2-page essay about each book with their thoughts and reflections about what they have read.

    • Award grades every 9 weeks according to this simple structure:
    • F - less than half the work is completed or the student had excessive absences without a legitimate reason.
    • D - at least 1/2 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • C - at least 3/4 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • B - at least 90% of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • A - at least 90% of assignments are complete with exceptional effort.

    Electives (Mainly Grades 9-12):

    Electives - Grading:

    • Students should complete about 1/4 of the assignments for their chosen elective during each 9-week period.

    • Award grades every 9 weeks according to this simple structure:
    • F - less than half the work is completed or the student had excessive absences without a legitimate reason.
    • D - at least 1/2 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • C - at least 3/4 of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • B - at least 90% of assignments are complete and answers are generally correct.
    • A - at least 90% of assignments are complete with exceptional effort.

    12th Grade (Independent Study Mornings):

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