PEAK Academy Receives $285k From Dogwood Health Trust For Startup Costs

Dec 8, 2020

Asheville PEAK Academy got a financial boost in its ongoing efforts to attract a diverse teaching staff. 

The charter school slated to open Fall 2021 received a $285,000 grant from the Dogwood Health Trust to support its teacher recruitment. 

“PEAK Academy’s vision of a school specifically designed to close the opportunity gap is exciting to us,” Jackie Simms, program and grants committee chair for Dogwood Health Trust, said in a news release. “Their vision aligns with Dogwood’s commitment to racial equity and helps to fulfill one of our strategic priority areas of education.”

Raul Saldaña is the founding director of Asheville PEAK Academy, a charter school slated to open for the 2021 school year.
Credit Cass Herrington / BPR News

Finding and attracting qualified teachers of color is challenging, particularly in North Carolina, where the teaching ranks are stubbornly white. About half of the state’s public school students are people of color but about 80-percent of teachers are white. PEAK's school director Raul Saldaña says representation is a priority.

“We want to make sure our students can see themselves in their teachers," Saldaña said. "And we want to make sure our teachers know the funds of knowledge these students have. We want our teachers to build relationship with our families and be part of the community.”

PEAK Academy is also in the process recruiting students. Applications for the upcoming school year are open, and the school has been holding application events at several public housing communities. Saldaña says at least 50-percent of the spots will go toward students considered low-income.

The school has yet to announce a location. Saldaña says he expects to share that news with the public as soon as the holidays or early in the New Year.