The Shipley Magazine

Hakiem Coles ’07: Raising Funds for Shipley’s Black Students and Teachers

Jared Scott Tesler
When he was 12 years old, Hakiem Coles ’07 would wake up at five o’clock in the morning to embark on an hour-and-a-half-long commute, by train and bus, to Shipley. His belief in the power of education to positively impact not only his life but also the lives of other Black students would prompt his return to Shipley’s campus more than a decade later, as a member of the Black Alumni Association Governing Body.

Throughout the past year, together with fellow alumnus Amiyr Jackson ’11 and Director of Development Josie Burri, Coles has worked to establish a named endowed fund, the Black Alumni Association Fund, to support the curricular and cultural needs of Shipley’s Black students and teachers, including activities and programs that provide the entire School community with an African-American experience integral to its shared American experience. Experiences the Fund could support include annual field trips to museums, memorials, and African countries; an African-American diaspora speaker series; and a consultant specially trained in anti-racist mental health practices.

“We can’t do this alone. We’re only going to be able to raise funds with the support of like-minded people who are in favor of creating meaningful change,” Coles says. “The Black Alumni Association Fund is designed to supplement Shipley’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, enriching the culture of its already diverse campus.”

Coles, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Pittsburgh, currently serves as Pennco Tech Trade School’s youngest and only Black administrator. As Director of Education, he manages upwards of 400 students and 30 instructors. He would never have had the opportunity to attend Shipley in the first place, he notes, had it not been for the Steppingstone Foundation, which prepares motivated urban schoolchildren for acceptance and success at the top college-preparatory schools in the Philadelphia area.

“I formed a lot of positive relationships with students and teachers at Shipley, and even landed my current job thanks to one of those relationships,” Coles says. “Shipley was life-changing for me. It opened up my world.”

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.