Rosenwald School Preservation Initiative
In 2013, we listed historic African American/Rosenwald schools on our Most Endangered Historic Places list. Since then, we have worked with community groups and individual Rosenwald school owners providing advice and guidance to help restore Rosenwald schools that are still standing and find ways to commemorate those that have been lost.
Funds from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and National Park Service, through a grant from DHR, are supporting this project.
Help Find Virginia’s Rosenwald Schools
Are there Rosenwald schools in your area? Use our online survey tool to document them and learn more about our multi-year initiative to preserve Virginia’s historic African American/Rosenwald schools. Please direct survey inquiries to Justin Sarafin at firstname.lastname@example.org
History of Rosenwald Schools
Between 1917 and 1932 and in the midst of racial segregation and chronic under-funding of African-American schools, more than 380 Rosenwald schools were built in rural areas across Virginia. After seeing the desperate need, Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute developed a rural school building program and enlisted the help of Sears-Roebuck president Julius T. Rosenwald to provide funding to local communities across the South. African-American communities and localities in which they lived raised money to match the Rosenwald Fund’s contributions and build schools. Local governments were essentially incentivized to apply for the funding in order to create educational opportunities for African American students that better lived up to the “separate but equal” rule of law.