Nineteen Years of Excellence

In 1990, a small, committed group of business, civic, and religious leaders conceived Cornerstone Schools as an answer to Archbishop Adam Maida’s challenge to the Detroit Economic Club “to make all things new again”. Cornerstone opened its doors to 167 students in August, 1991.
This year, Cornerstone embarks on a new initiative to bring its 19 years of educational excellence into the public school arena. This year, Cornerstone will deliver educational excellence in its independent and charters school locations, serving over 1,100 children!  Follow Cornerstone's incredible timeline below.
A Cornerstone Timeline
October 29, 1990
At the Economic Club of Detroit, Catholic Archbishop Adam Maida speaks of the closed churches, boarded up schools, and broken homes of Detroit’s neighborhoods. He also speaks of Detroit’s strong hearts and possibilities. From this came an idea: a new spirit and a new school, to make all things new.

January 10, 1991
Eighty-five people, from across geographic, racial, religious, and economic lines, answer the Archbishop’s call. In a meeting at Chicago and Linwood, Father Bill Cunningham expresses urgency, saying, “The kids are dying now. We cannot wait.”

Early Summer, 1991
By May, a plan is in place. A founding board soon follows. The Archbishop, Mike Timmis, and Clark Durant, together with five families and a number of special benefactors get the ball rolling.

August 26, 1991
Cornerstone opens with 167 students. In just ten months, Archbishop Maida’s vision is becoming reality. It is only the beginning.

The Partnership Program recruits 167 partners to work with the children.

Cornerstone opens its Iroquois campus in historic Indian Village, and consolidates locations.

The National Commission of Time and Learning recognizes Cornerstone as one of only four elementary schools to meet all of its criteria for excellence in an extended school year program.

Ernestine Sanders becomes Cornerstone’s second Executive Director.

Cornerstone purchases its Nevada Street property from the Lutheran School for the Deaf (LSEM), and partners with them to keep the vital group in the city forever.

Cornerstone launches its first capital campaign for new facilities, expanded enrollment, and enhanced curriculum.

Eighth grade student Desmond Crenshaw and his mother, Maxine, represent Cornerstone Schools at the National Freedom Works Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Mayor Dennis Archer presides over the ground-breaking ceremony to expand the Nevada campus.

Cornerstone President Ernestine Sanders receives the Heritage Foundation’s Salvatori Prize for inspiring urban children to excellence in academic achievement.

Saint John Health System opens a school-based health center at Cornerstone’s Nevada campus.

“Big Three” chairmen Jack Smith (GM), Jacques Nasser (Ford), and Bob Eaton (Chrysler) host Cornerstone’s “Spirit of America” event.

Students christen the first ever Cornerstone School bus.

Dr. Benjamin Carson, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins speaks with the Cornerstone students.

On his visit to Cornerstone Schools, then Governor George W. Bush says: “I am here because this school challenges the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Cornerstone completes a $22 million capital campaign and inaugurates its Classroom Sponsor Program.

The Cornerstone Middle School Choir sings the National Anthem at Comerica Park in June.

The Cornerstone family gathers to celebrate its 10th Anniversary.
Cornerstone becomes the first school in Detroit to be accredited by ISACS, the Independent Schools Association of the Central States.  Their standards for accreditation are rigorous, and are based on several areas within a school environment, such as academics, governance and parental involvement.

As the 2004 NBA Title Champion, the Detroit Pistons choose Cornerstone Schools as the recipient of the NBA’s Read to Achieve Program.  Through that program, the Pistons create for Cornerstone a new library and learning center outfitted with carpet, paint, computers, furniture, resource materials, and several hundred new books.

Cornerstone featured nationally when golfer Arnold Palmer celebrated the 50th anniversary of his US Amateur win at the Country Club of Detroit.  Palmer dubbed that win a turning point in his life, and he was honored to make the anniversary of that win a turning point for Cornerstone students.  The gala dinner and golf event saw a never-before-achieved number of past US Amateur winners golfing together to honor Arnie and Cornerstone (29 in all).  In addition, the Turning Point Invitational set a national record for funds raised in a golf tournament.  Those funds were used to establish a scholarship fund for Cornerstone students.  Said Palmer, “Never in fifty years have I experienced what I did here during this day and a half.”

Cornerstone becomes ISO Certified (International Standards Organization).  It is believed that Cornerstone is the only urban-focused school to achieve that certification.

Cornerstone teams up with the Detroit Tigers and several local corporate sponsors to bring the city together around the children of Cornerstone.  The annual Be A Tiger For Kids event brings more than 5,000 people together at a Tigers game, and raises significant scholarship funds for Cornerstone students. 
Cornerstone’s Linwood campus is packed up and moved to the newly-acquired, and far more spacious, campus on Grove Street in Detroit (at the former St. Martin DePorres High School).
Cornerstone opens the Redford campus, sharing the building with Covenant High School (at the former Bishop Borgess High School).

Cornerstone’s Be A Tiger For Kids event with the Detroit Tigers continues to grow, meeting fundraising goals.
“Changing Detroit One Child At A Time” billboards are first posted along area roads.
Cornerstone partners with the Detroit Pistons to launch Cornerstone Night at the Palace. Cornerstone student Alford Harris is honored at center court as a Michigan Hero because of his continued successes in life and his “can do” attitude, despite multiple health challenges.
Cornerstone passes the rigorous quality standards audit and earned ISO recertification.  Cornerstone is one of only a few schools in the country to be ISO certified. 
The Redford Chess Team, under Coach Kevin Fite’s direction, wins 1st place at the United States Chess Federation’s National Chess Tournament in Dallas, Texas. 
Annual fundraising events, such as Be A Tiger For Kids, the Turning Point Invitational, the Ford Charity Golf Outing, the Henkel Fore a Cause Golf Outing, Cornerstone Night at the Palace, and the Vinnie Johnson Invitational are successful in raising funds for Cornerstone students. 
More than 400 new friends are introduced to Cornerstone at the Back to School event at the Nevada Campus.  Cornerstone friends at WDIV, WJR, and Catholic Radio broadcast live from the school during the all-day event, where new friends have the opportunity to meet Cornerstone students in the classroom and learn about the schools.
Cornerstone partners with the Fox Theatre to host a performance of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas for the Cornerstone Community in November.  Fun is had by all.
Adam Cardinal Maida retires from service.  The Detroit News calls Cornerstone Schools Maida’s legacy to the city of Detroit.

The Cornerstone Redford Chess Team, under Coach Kevin Fite’s direction, wins its second consecutive Michigan Chess Association Junior High State Championship.

Once again, Cornerstone’s annual fundraising events are successful in raising funds for Cornerstone students. Most events saw an increased number of participants, especially Be A Tiger For Kids. Nearly 7,000 members of the Cornerstone Community came out in support of Cornerstone students. Cornerstone met its fundraising goal and its Wheeler Family Foundation Challenge grant, raising additional money to help educate its students.

Cornerstone launches two charter schools in its former Grove and Redford locations. The Lincoln-King Academy (formerly Grove campus) and Washington-Parks Academy (formerly Redford campus) provide a financially-sustainable and replicable model for the Cornerstone vision, allowing Cornerstone to bring its rigorous academic excellence into the public arena. Drawing on Cornerstone’s 18-year history of excellence in education, the Lincoln-King and Washington-Parks Academies are staffed by Cornerstone faculty and offer the same rigorous curriculum standards and character development that are hallmarks of a Cornerstone education.

In March, Cornerstone is highlighted in a CNN feature on education in the city of Detroit, “How One School Gets It Right.” Cornerstone’s rigorous academics, college preparatory environment and comprehensive extracurricular activities are showcased in this national spotlight.

Cornerstone Primary was named the number one primary school in the city of Detroit by Excellent Schools Detroit.

Cornerstone announces plans to open a high school in the fall of 2011 to be called the Cornerstone Leadership and Business High School.