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Cornerstone Schools launches $50M campaign

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit — Cornerstone Schools is on a mission to boost its enrollment as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.

To that end, Clark Durant, a co-founder with Adam Cardinal Maida of Cornerstone Schools, announced a $50 million Campaign of Excellence on Thursday at the school’s Nevada campus. “We already have over $20 million in commitments,” he told guests, parents and students.

Cornerstone Schools is seeking to expand from 2,800 students to 5,000 within the next three years through its private school and four charter schools. It teaches preschool through 12th grade.

Mayor Mike Duggan was among the guests Thursday.

“I just wanted to be here to say congratulations to Clark Durant on the 25th anniversary of Cornerstone Schools,” he said. “The impact these schools have had on so many lives will be affecting this city for many years to come.”

He then addressed his remarks to a group of students sitting nearby: “Are there any future mayors here?”

When students raised their hands in response, Duggan replied, “Well, the job is harder than it looks.”

Incoming senior Dannah Wilson’s ultimate goal is to become attorney general of the United States.

She’s already on her way.

Through the career path program, Wilson, 16, worked as an intern at a law firm and “I was able to develop analyses I used in depositions.”

She said one of the main reasons she enjoys attending Cornerstone’s Nevada campus is its caring staff.

“I know the teachers loved us at my other school, but here it’s more than that,” she said. “The administrators, including the principals show us that they really care about us.”

Former Mayor Dave Bing said he also cares.

“I am extremely proud to have a relationship with Cornerstone Schools,” he said Thursday. “As we look at expanding, it will be very important for supporters of Cornerstone to help because we won’t be able to grow the campus without ongoing support. I look forward to working with you any way I can.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multi-national professional services network headquartered in London, golf icon Jack Nicklaus and Ford Motor Co. are among those stepping up to help.

Nicklaus, along with a number of other champion golfers, is coming to Michigan in August with a goal to raise $3 million.

“Funds raised during the 13th annual Turning Point Invitational will help get Cornerstone Schools to their goal of 5,000 students,” Durant said.

A new platform to strengthen the school’s mission also was announced Thursday.

After a two-year study, the not-for-profit educational enterprise announced it has created the Cornerstone Education Group.

“We looked at what we’re doing well and where we need to improve,” said Reid Gough, the recently appointed CEO of the group.

“There’s not enough quality education in Detroit, whether it’s charters or public schools. I want to meet with Alycia Meriweather (superintendent of Detroit Public Schools) and charter operators who are committed to the same excellence in education Cornerstone is committed to.”

Gough said Cornerstone Education Group wants to partner with any public school, charter or traditional, to learn from each other.