Local Group Hopes To Teach A New Generation Of Business Leaders

Black Academy Intends To Begin Instruction This Fall

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

[email protected]

A local nonprofit is looking to teach students not just financial literacy, but to grow the local economy as a new generation of entrepreneurs. The Black Academy is targeting three main subjects: economics, health and wellness and entrepreneurship.

Phil Van Dyke II said the Black Academy is in the process of finding a permanent home but are currently planning to operate at West Lane Park and the Mercer County Public Library.

Due to the pandemic, he said they are starting with online as well as in-person instruction this fall.

While Van Dyke said the Black Academy name started in 2019, the idea has been around for a while. “In 2020 we started planning but, with COVID-19, we’ve had to regroup and reset,” he said.

He said many in the community—especially people in their 20s and 30s—feel the way the education system currently teaches financial literacy is lacking.

“Our teachers, in our opinion, are underpaid and under appreciated as well as outnumbered,” Van Dyke said. “We feel it is our duty to help the education system by giving students an extra avenue to become successful.”

The overriding goal is to help develop students, as well as parents, to become the best versions of themselves.

The Black Academy is working to create fun and educational workshops where students will not only learn the “what” but also the “why” of financial literacy and entrepreneurship. “We want students to be able to dive deeper in subjects they may not be able to at school,”Van Dyke said. They hope the classes will drive growth of small business owners and entrepreneurs, increasing the number of jobs in the community and improving the quality of life.

“Our programs will help students prepare for a world outside of just Harrodsburg,” Van Dyke said. “We want them to feel comfortable with financial literacy, wanting to start their own business, being mentally and physically healthy and up to date on the latest business trends current events that the rest of the world offers.”

Due to COVID-19, he said the Black Academy looks to begin with an online as well as in person instruction. He said the plan is to begin with a small number of students, no more than 15.

“We don’t want to go over our head,” Van Dyke said. “We want to establish a solid formula to maximize growth and be as hands on as possible with each student. Once we grow in members we will add more.”

While the Black Academy will be based in Mercer County, he said they will not be limited to it.

“In the future we would also like to reach out to other communities in surrounding areas to collaborate on events,” Van Dyke said. He said the online course, once it’s up and running, will be available to anyone.

Right now, there are around 15 people working to make the Black Academy real. “But the number is starting to grow,” Van Dyke said. “A lot of people have reached out to volunteer and help in any way they can. We have business owners, teachers, community leaders, and healthcare workers currently involved.”

covid-19 has definitely left its mark on the group, impeding their efforts to get the academy started in 2020.

“We had a few planned events that had to cancel,” Van Dyke said.

He said they have taken the time to create online courses that they plan to roll out later this year.

“While we plan to officially begin in the fall, we have a summer event to kick off the year,” he said.

The group needs the support of the community to get off the ground. You can donate online at www.TheBlkAcademy.com or schedule an in-person donation by emailing [email protected]

“We plan on adding local donation locations in the near future,” Van Dyke said. “Follow us on all social media @TheBlkAcademy.”

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