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Donna Dukes, Founder of Birmingham School for Critically At-Risk Students, Shares the ‘Way to Hope’

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Donna Dukes will hold a pre-launch of her book — “The Way to Hope: The Challenges, Hard Truths & Triumphs of Working With Critically At-Risk Students” — Wednesday at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) beginning at 5 p.m. in the Abraham Woods Community Meeting Room. (File)

By Sym Posey | The Birmingham Times

Donna Dukes, Founder and Executive Director of Maranathan Academy in Birmingham, knows about the hard truths and triumphs of working with critically at-risk students in the metro area.

Founded in 1991, Maranathan Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit school and learning center that caters to critically at-risk students — some with little or no support system, others who have been expelled from school, had trouble learning, or may not have the best home life.

Dukes said she’s often asked at speaking engagements and conferences about some of her proven techniques to help young adults and now she’s found a way to share some of what she knows.

On Wednesday, (Feb. 28) Dukes will hold a pre-launch of her book — “This Way to Hope: The Challenges, Hard Truths & Triumphs of Working With Critically At-Risk Students” — at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) beginning at 5 p.m. in the Abraham Woods Community Meeting Room.

The book is geared “to bring insight into the plight of critically at-risk students to inspire educators, social workers, all professionals that work on the front lines of the critically at risk [population],” she said.

“My prayer and my hope is that the book can be placed into the hands of those who need inspiration most, given the mass exodus that is continuing to occur in the teaching profession and the collective burnout that is occurring among social workers and others, I hope it provides some much-needed encouragement,” Dukes said.

Having the pre-launch at the BCRI is special for a number of reasons, she said.

“Given my late father’s [the Rev. Frank Dukes] deep and impactful involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and given the fact that Maranathan Academy was [recognized by] the BCRI for being the first school of its kind in the state of Alabama is an honor,” she said.

The Rev. Frank Dukes, an influential Birmingham Civil Rights Movement leader and President of Miles College’s trailblazing student body in the early 1960’s, died in November at the age of 92.

Maranathan is the only private school in Birmingham and its surrounding cities, that works exclusively with critically at-risk youth, and the only private school in the Birmingham area that accepts students who have been expelled for weapon-related or violent offenses.

When: Wednesday (Feb. 28)

Where: The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI)

Time: 5 p.m.-6 p.m.

Description: Dukes will hold a pre-launch of her book – “The Way to Hope: The Challenges, Hard Truths & Triumphs of Working With Critically At-Risk Students.”

The official launch of the book will be held Saturday, April 6 at the Barnes & Noble at The Summit.