Get Proximate.

Create Opportunity.

Inspire Others.

— Bryan Allen Stevenson

The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence (BASSE) INC. is an emerging public charter secondary school in Sussex County, Delaware. Founded on the life philosophy of Bryan Allen Stevenson, a native Delawarean, renowned lawyer, and social justice advocate, Mr. Stevenson frequently talks about the power of proximity as being essential in his journey. 

BASSE will be a free public service-learning high school in Sussex County, opening with grades nine and ten, with a strong focus on academic rigor and social justice. Our deep belief is in our children and that they are our future; therefore, they require deep investments in their learning both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. BASSE will provide a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum to support students in using their gained skills and knowledge to complete service projects in the community. Through collaboration with local community organizations, nonprofits, and service organizations, students will become proximate with community needs and develop novel solutions.

BASSE aims to develop the capacity for leadership in the youth of Sussex County through the passion of learning, the joy of providing service, and the power of proximity. 

Mission

To create pathways, through proximity, for our students, their families, and our community.

Proximity is a pathway through which we learn the kind of things we need to know to make healthier communities.”

– Bryan Allen Stevenson

Core Values

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Photo of Bryan Allen Stevenson, a native Delawarean, renowned lawyer, and social justice advocate

Why Bryan Stevenson?

Bryan Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. A Delaware native, Mr. Stevenson is deeply committed to ending injustice in the United States of America especially for the poor, incarcerated, and condemned.

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Bryan Stevenson and BASSE

A member of our BASSE Principal Advisory Board, Mr. Stevenson is a passionate advocate for the power of proximity. Because the path to a strong and healthy community is complex and requires extensive and ongoing collaboration, we convened a small group of community members to determine how to incorporate proximity to address the challenges of our rural environment—gaps in innovation, lack of coordinated social services, and limited access to opportunity.

We cannot create justice without getting close to places where injustices prevail. We have to get proximate.”

– Bryan Allen Stevenson
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Executive Team

Alonna Berry

Founder and Chair

Alonna is a lifelong educator with a deep commitment to Delaware. Throughout her career, Alonna has worked in an array of education spaces such as traditional district schools, at the Delaware Department of Education, and in the nonprofit education sector. In her most recent role, she supported leadership development, classroom training…

Chantalle Ashford

Founder and Vice Chair

Chantalle is a 2014 alumna of the College of William & Mary as well as a former Teach For America corps member. Receiving her master’s degree in teaching from the Relay Graduate School of Education in 2017, she is currently in her seventh year of service as an educator…

Board of Directors 2020

Alonna Berry

Founder & Board Chair

Educator & Strategic Planning Consultant

Social Contract, LLC


Chantalle Ashford

Founder & Vice Chair

Educator, Indian River School District 


Jonathan Edwards

Treasurer

Finance Professional, Citizens Bank


Betsy Renzo

Secretary

Founding Board Member

Director, WAVE Learning System
Educator & Attorney


Karl Armand

Founding Board Member

Attorney, Comcast Corporation


Dr. Teresa E. S. Berry

Founding Board Member

Administrator, Dorchester County Public Schools, Maryland


Diaz Bonville

Board Member 

Delaware State Human Relations Commissioner, U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester’s Kent/Sussex County Outreach Coordinator 


Stacie Burton

Board Member

Community Liaison, Office of The Governor, State of Delaware


Lori Crawford

Founding Board Member

Associate Professor, Delaware State University


Derick Dailey 

Board Member

Litigation Associate, Davis & Gilbert LLP 


Karen Higgins

Founding Board Member

Retired, Law Enforcement Officer


Dr. Joseph Kim

Board Member

Family Physician

Nanticoke Health Services


Brad Owens

Founding Board Member

Attorney, Connections Community Support Programs, Inc.


Amy Shepherd

Founding Board Member

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Librarian; St. Anne’s Episcopal School


Denise Snyder

Board Member

Educator, Indian River School District, Delaware


Our Staff

Kirsten Croner Dean of Academic Excellence Academic Head of School

Kirsten Croner

Dean of Academic Excellence
Academic Head of School

Rahsel Holland Community Engagement Coordinator of the Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence

Rahsel Holland

Community Engagement Coordinator

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Our Partners

Through our School Launch Partner Fellowship, Jounce launches schools where high-quality teaching comes first. This Fellowship program will train our first school administrator, called the School Launch Partner Fellow. Jounce schools devote more than ten times as much attention as a typical school to supporting and developing teachers.

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Our Community Partnerships

The Need

Rural schools in Delaware have distinct challenges

1
Under-Funded
2
Under-Researched
3
Under-Resourced

Under-Funded

The lack of an equitable funding system has direct consequences for students

Delaware lags significantly behind neighboring states in education funding, especially when it concerns English-Language Learners and students from low-income households. According to Education Equity Delaware, the disparity in additional per-pupil funding in Delaware compared to what students receive in surrounding states is staggering:

  • Delaware: $300 – $500
  • New Jersey: $4,000 – $5,000
  • Pennsylvania: $6,000
  • Maryland : $9,000

The Charter School Funding Gap

Additionally, public charter school funding in Delaware is significantly less than that of traditional public schools. As shown in “Per-Student Funding By School District” (below), the average per-student funding for Delaware public charter schools hovers very close to the bottom, at $12,727, while the average dollars allocated per-student for all Delaware public schools is $15,329. This disparity is even more striking when considering how Delaware schools are funded.

Traditional school districts serving high school students are funded through three major means: federal funding, state funding, and local funding collected through property taxes. While funding gaps are a problem throughout Delaware, variability from one school district to another is particularly dramatic in Sussex County. For example, Laurel School District reports a per-student expenditure of almost $13,000 per student while, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Cape Henlopen School District invests more than $20,000 per student. 

BASSE is currently projecting to receive state and local funding at an average of $8,506 per pupil for its first five years.

To equal the funding of the average Delaware public charter school, BASSE will require an additional $4,221 per student. And for BASSE funding to reach the level of the average Delaware public school district will require an additional $6,823 per student.

The implications could not be more striking. Current variability in funding combined with the fact that public charter schools, on average, are funded at a rate well under the state average, means that significant additional investment for the future of our students is a critical and immediate need. 

BASSE Projected Per-Pupil Dollars Based on Projected Student Enrollment

School YearProjected EnrollmentAverage Per Pupil Funding Gap = $997
2022-2023250$249,250
2023-2024375$373,875
2024-2025500$498,500
2025-2026500$498,500
Total Multi-Year Need$1,620,125

Under-Researched

A lack of research focused on rural education impacts students 

Though nearly 1 in 5 students in the United States attends a rural school, these schools are often ignored in the education policy space. Nationally, rural education needs more attention especially in the area of funding gaps for schools (gaps have widened recently in some states), access to coursework that adequately prepares rural students for postsecondary experiences, and a specific focus on meeting the needs of diverse populations located in rural school districts.

According to the Why Rural Matters report (2019), rural schools are “still not getting the attention they deserve.” This is one of only a handful of recent reports published about the state of rural education in the United States.


Under-Resourced

Delaware’s rural schools lack access resources to support students 

Recent studies indicate that many students who graduate from Delaware public high schools are not adequately prepared for post-secondary opportunities. Approximately half of Delaware’s 11th-grade students fail to meet state and national requirements for College and Career Readiness. Even more troubling, only 34% of low-income students are proficient in reading and writing compared to 53% of Delaware students overall. 

The challenges facing students in rural Sussex County are especially acute. Nearly two-thirds of the districts here perform below the state average in measures of College and Career Readiness. 

These same districts are also home to some of the largest populations of students from low-income households, students with disabilities, English-Language Learners, and students of color. Although Sussex County contains some of the most diverse rural school districts in the country, the state has still not closed the gaps for the educational outcomes of its rural students.

Per-Student Funding By School District

Traditional school districts serving high school students are funded through three major means: federal funding, state funding, and local funding collected through property taxes. While funding gaps are a problem throughout Delaware, variability from one school district to another is particularly dramatic in Sussex County. For example, Laurel School District reports a per-student expenditure of almost $13,000 per student while, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Cape Henlopen School District invests more than $20,000 per student. 

Our Theory of Change

Immediate Impact

The founders of BASSE understand the growing population needs in our community and see our school as a capacity builder for Sussex County. Most importantly, we know the work of community building requires an investment in people first. We see our role as educating and activating youth as advocates for change.

We seek to:

  • Increase the capacity of collective impact through community partnerships
  • Accelerate the education ecosystem through innovation
  • Provide opportunities for students to apply knowledge and skills beyond the classroom
  • Activate young community leaders 

Long-Term Impact

We are building a pathway for leadership within Sussex County that starts with students. We recognize the cyclical nature of this work requires a culture of advocates who are deeply invested in their community. The role of BASSE is to prepare, educate, motivate, and inspire such advocates.

We seek to:

  • Create and nurture a long-term leadership pipeline 
  • Build access for students through community and business networks
  • Foster a stronger, healthier community through access to high-quality education 
  • Develop young leaders who are invested in the outcomes and sustainability of Sussex County

Students as Community Leaders

Through proximate service-learning experiences and a rigorous academic curriculum, we place our students’ leadership at the forefront of our community and cultivate their commitment to stay engaged and dedicated to Sussex County.

Our Students

We at BASSE want all of our students to have equitable access to everything that an excellent education entails. This means that BASSE must close the funding gaps that may exist for many of our students due to which school districts they may come from and additional resources they may need. 

The facts: 

  • Research clearly shows that students facing barriers—such as English-Language Learners or students from low-income households—need funding in addition to their per-pupil dollar allocation. These students often need more resources to access quality education than can be provided by the average per-pupil dollar allocation. 
  • Unlike other states, Delaware does not provide additional sustainable funding for English-language learners; there is a statewide gap in this area for traditional public schools and public charter schools alike. 
  • Unlike other states, Delaware does not provide additional dedicated funding for low-income students; there is a statewide gap in this area for traditional public schools and public charter schools alike.

Ellis

9th Grade Student

Academic

Language & Literature I, Language Acquisition I, Individuals & Societies I, Algebra I, Integrated Science I, Physical Education, Music Theory, Career Exploration

Service

Sussex Water Project

Extra-Curricular

Basketball & Soccer

  • Low-Income $6400*
    • Residence
    • Foster-Care
    • Homeless
    • Migrant
    • Military
  • Rides the Bus $1200*
  • After-School Programming $1140*
  • Summer Intensive
  • Additional Academic Supports
    • English Language Learner $6700*
    • Student with Disabilities

Ellis is starting as a 9th-grade student at BASSE. Ellis is excited about the opportunity to help the community and demonstrate what the 9th grade class has learned through the Sussex County Water service project. Ellis had always been interested in playing sports, but because there is no basketball court or open field nearby, Ellis never had the opportunity. 

Because BASSE includes club time in the school day and an activity bus for after school activities, Ellis can now play basketball with friends and, for the first time, try soccer. Ellis’s family is excited that they are a part of the BASSE community because they can receive important information that’s been translated into their home language. At BASSE, Ellis is getting the support necessary to thrive in school, instead of just survive. 

Help us fill the funding gaps for students like Ellis: 

  • Low-income
  • Bus transportation
  • Access to after-school programs
  • English Language Learner

Jordan

10th Grade Student

Academic

Language & Literature II, Language Acquisition II, Individuals & Societies II, Algebra II, Biology, Drivers Education, Visual Arts, Fundamentals of Health Sciences

Service

Railroad Ave Recycling Initiative

Extra-Curricular

Chorus, Chess Club

  • Low-Income $6400*
    • Residence
    • Foster-Care
    • Homeless
    • Migrant
    • Military
  • Rides the Bus $1200*
  • After-School Programming
  • Summer Intensive $472*
  • Additional Academic Supports
    • English Language Learner $6700*
    • Student with Disabilities

Jordan is excited about starting the 10th-grade at BASSE. Ultimately, Jordan wants to pursue a career as a doctor or psychologist. When Jordan found out about the Summer Intensive program, where students would have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work and contribute to the community in a healthcare facility, Jordan knew that BASSE was the place to finish high school and move ahead to college and beyond.

Even though Jordan’s family is between permanent homes, Jordan can still participate in Chess Club and the music ensemble because of club time and the activity bus. Jordan knows how important a healthy environment is to a healthy community. It was awesome to find other 10th-grade students who were also interested in sustainability, and they are working on a Railroad Avenue recycling project as their service for the first semester. 

Help us fill the funding gaps for students like Jordan: 

  • Low-income
  • Bus transportation
  • Summer Intensive
  • Student with a disability

*These numbers represent averages for the region (the four states of the Mid-Atlantic surrounding Delaware) of what other states say you need for education resources per student who are identified as low-income or English Language Learners. (Education Equity Delaware, 2020)

How You Can Help

The smartest investment you can make

Investing in the stock market can produce uncertain results—but investing in your community and in the lives of students is a guaranteed win. There is no better investment than supporting students as they experience a service-learning curriculum marked by academic rigor and social justice exploration at BASSE. Investment options include: 

20% out of 100% = $20,000 out of $100,000k goal

Become a Seed Partner

Seed Partners will be founding sponsors of BASSE. Featured prominently in BASSE communications, they will be positioned as area leaders and help encourage other partners to contribute in building the BASSE movement. Seed Partners will be recognized as founding partners in all fundraising and marketing materials during the Capital Campaign (2020-2024) and recognized in BASSE social media, newsletters, and external communications. All founding Seed Partners will receive a special place of permanent recognition in a forthcoming display at BASSE (once school is opened) and will enjoy additional opportunities with the BASSE Executive Leadership team.

Seed Partners: Supporters who sponsor BASSE at $10,000 or more will receive the following recognition:

  • Recognized as  Founding Seed Partners in all fundraising and marketing materials (2020-2024)
  • Acknowledgement and logo placement in social media, newsletters and external communications
  • Name recognition at BASSE campus (when opened) in digital display as Founding Partner
  • VIP table(s) at BASSE’s Annual Fundraising Art Event
  • Mention and logo placement in special donor appreciation short video played at BASSE events and on social media
  • Volunteer opportunities/employee engagement opportunities (once BASSE campus is opened)
  • Invitation to annual special reception for Proximate Club members
  • Invitation to participate in Proximate Club’s Book Club
  • BASSE Donor Appreciation Package: Equal Justice Initiative Calendar, BASSE Seed Partner Lapel Pin, BASSE Lapel Pin, BASSE Sticker, Signed copy of book Just Mercy, Certificate of Appreciation

Join The Proximate Club

Donate $1,000 or more, per year

There are several ways to join the Proximate Club:

  • Make a one-time donation of $1,000 or more, per year
  • Set up a recurring donation plan totaling $1,000 or more, per year
  • Special campaign opportunities to sponsor a student

The Proximate Club brings together a diverse group of individuals and companies for a leadership giving initiative that is committed to transformational impact for students at BASSE. Commitment to the Proximate Club allows BASSE to create the necessary foundation for BASSE to open a free, public, charter high-school in fall 2022.

Note: Contributions made through raffle and auction purchases do not apply to your Proximate Club commitment.

Proximate Club members receive unique opportunities, including: 

  • Ticket(s) to BASSE’s signature Art Auction fundraising event, (spring 2021 date TBD)
  • Invitation to Annual Proximate Club Appreciation event 
  • Name recognition on BASSE website and in Annual Impact Report as Proximate Club Member
  • Volunteer opportunities – invitation to participate in activities working with BASSE volunteers and students (when school opens and social distancing rules allow) 
  • Invitation to special book club opportunities 
  • Special semi-annual updates from Board Chair and leadership 
  • BASSE Donor Appreciation Package: Equal Justice Initiative Calendar, BASSE Sticker, Signed copy of book Just Mercy, Certificate of Appreciation
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Set up our First Class for Success at BASSE

Support a Student with a Monthly Donation

These limited-time donor opportunities are available from now until Fall 2022:

$50 per month for a 9th-grade student 

  • BASSE Donor Appreciation Package: Equal Justice Initiative Calendar, BASSE Sticker, BASSE Lapel Pin, Signed copy of book Just Mercy, Certificate of Appreciation
  • A personal letter from a 9th-grade student once school opens

$100 per month for a 10th-grade student 

(The higher level of investment for a 10th grade student will support their service learning internship and summer leadership experience during their sophomore year, including additional  transportation expenses.) 

  • BASSE Donor Appreciation Package: Equal Justice Initiative Calendar, BASSE Sticker, BASSE Lapel Pin, Signed copy of book Just Mercy, Certificate of Appreciation
  • A Letter from a 10th-grade student once school opens
  • Proximate Club membership
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One-Time Donations

We understand  that many people would like to support BASSE but are not able to commit to ongoing or large contributions. However, we appreciate all donations and value every person who chooses to help support our vision and our students. 

Here’s how your donations can contribute to an extraordinary educational experience for BASSE students:

  • $75 provides half a year of service learning for one student
  • $200 provides half the Summer Intensive for one student
  • $500 provides half of a year of after-school care and activities for one student
  • $1,500 provides two months of support for one English Language Learner or Low Income learner

What your donation means for BASSE

Attend a BASSE Event

Art Auction Fundraiser

Join BASSE to celebrate the talent of our community at this annual event. View and bid on art from local artists, while enjoying food and music.

Stevenson Service Day – November 14

In honor of Bryan Stevenson’s birthday on November 14th each year, BASSE will commit to a series of service projects in partnership with the Delaware community.

BASSE Annual Education Conference

Learn more about the education landscape both in Delaware and nationally. This annual conference will feature education speakers, panels of parents and community members, and student exhibitions and discussions.

Our Start-Up Costs

Pre-OpeningYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Revenue
State Appropriations$0.00$1,691,542.00$2,556,896.00$3,318,488.00$3,318,488.00
Per-Pupil Fund Transfer **$0.00$514,868.00$769,077.00$1,024,192.00$1,024,192.00
Federal Entitlements$0.00$175,284.00$262,926.00$350,569.00$350,569.00
Cafeteria Funds$0.00$225,000.00$337,500.00$450,000.00$450,000.00
Prior Year Carry-Over$0.00$1,349.00$83,240.00$85,903.00$200,342.00
Total$0.00$2,608,043.00$4,009,639.00$5,229,152.00$5,343,591.00
Expenditures
Personnel$371,651.00$1,755,104.00$2,248,133.00$2,814,167.00$3,133,604.00
Summer Programming$25,000.00$50,000.00$75,000.00$100,000.00$100,000.00
Student Support$7,000.00$738,700.00$1,114,704.00$1,445,657.00$1,467,549.00
Facilities & Operations Maintenance$10,000.00$327,000.00$472,800.00$614,308.00$629,665.00
Administrative/Operations Support$35,000.00$104,000.00$123,100.00$154,678.00$158,544.00
Management/ Accounting Support$18,000.00$75,000.00$85,000.00$90,000.00$95,000.00
2% Contingency$8,500.00$61,660.87$82,592.79$106,383.02$112,071.81
Total$475,151.00$3,111,464.87$4,201,329.79$5,696,433.81$5,325,193.02
REVENUE LESS EXPENDITURES-$475,151.00-$503,421.87-$191,690.79-$96,041.02-$352,842.81
Funding Gap$475,151.00$503,421.87$191,690.79$96,041.02$352,842.81
Total Need
(FY 21–FY 25)
$1,619,147.49

The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence is a part of the Proximate Network — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Proximate Network is a nonprofit organization created to serve as the fiscal sponsor for The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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If you are interested in adding your name or organization to our official list of supporters, please email alonna@basseinc.org

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