The Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA) is an all-girl high school that first opened in Bed-Stuy in 2017. Their mission is to help overcome the educational inequities encountered by Black and Brown youth by empowering “each young woman to be the best version of herself.”
The school’s senior class is 90% Black, with more than 75% of the graduating class being first-generation college students. The class of 2021 applied to over 150 different colleges and universities. They received almost $1 million in merit-based scholarships, and each of their 50 seniors — the first-ever graduating class — all got accepted into college.
The high school’s staff decided to celebrate the great accomplishment by hosting a “college shower” for seniors, creating swag bags for the girls in preparation for their next journey. The bags included college gear, duffle bags, dorm supplies, and a pair of wireless headphones.
BELA co-founder and head of the school, Nicia Fullwood, spoke to the young ladies about the significance of their accomplishment during the shower, saying, “Today, you are rewriting history and contributing to the legacy of District 16 and Bedford-Stuyvesant. We’ve always said that you all were destined for greatness, that you’d change the world in ways we could never imagine. Despite your non-traditional senior year, today, we celebrate all of you.”