In 1990, a small, committed group of business, civic, and religious leaders conceived of Cornerstone Schools as an response to Archbishop Adam Maida’s challenge to the Detroit Economic Club “to make all things new again.” Just nine months later, Cornerstone opened its doors to 167 eager students in August of 1991.
Today, Cornerstone now serves over 1,500 children in the Detroit area through the independent and four charter schools. Cornerstone's incredible history is captured in the timeline below.
The Cornerstone Timeline
October 29, 1990
In a speech to the Economic Club of Detroit, Catholic Archbishop Adam Maida speaks of closed churches, boarded-up schools, and broken homes in Detroit’s neighborhoods. He also tells of Detroit’s strong hearts and possibilities. From this commentary, comes a hopeful idea: a new spirit and a new school, to make all things new again.
January 10, 1991
Eighty-five people, from across numerous geographic, racial, religious, and economic lines, answer the Archbishop’s call. During a meeting held at Chicago and Linwood, Father Bill Cunningham reinforces the urgency of the situation, saying, “The kids are dying now. We cannot wait.”
Early summer, 1991
By May, a plan is in place and the founding board soon follows. The Archbishop, Mike Timmis and Clark Durant, together with five families and a number of special benefactors, begin an inspired journey.
August 26, 1991
Cornerstone opens with 167 students. Just ten months after his speech, Archbishop Maida’s vision is becoming reality – and it is only the beginning.
The Partnership Program recruits 167 partners to work with each of the children of Cornerstone.
Cornerstone also 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 the Nevada Street property from the Lutheran School for the Deaf (LSEM). Together, they join forces to keep this vital group in the city, forever.
Cornerstone launches its first capital campaign for new facilities, expanded enrollment, and an 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 Cornerstone’s groundbreaking 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.
St. 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 Cornerstone students.
On a 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 is featured nationally when golfer, Arnold Palmer, celebrates the 50th anniversary of his U.S. Amateur win at the Country Club of Detroit. Palmer dubbed that win “a turning point in his life.” He expresses that he is honored to make the anniversary of that win a turning point for Cornerstone students. A gala dinner and golf event sees a never-before-achieved number of past U.S. Amateur winners golfing together to honor Arnie and Cornerstone (29 participants in all). In addition, the Turning Point Invitational sets a national record for funds raised in a golf tournament. The funds are 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 also 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 posted along area roads for the first time.
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 Primary is 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 called the Cornerstone Leadership and Business High School.
Cornerstone celebrates 20 years of providing excellence in urban education with a gala event in May. More than 500 friends from the Cornerstone community gathered at Andiamo of Warren for an evening filled with looking back and looking ahead.
In June, Cornerstone President and CEO, Ernestine Sanders, was named a Michiganian of the Year by the Detroit News.
The Turning Point Invitational in August raised more than $1M for the children of Cornerstone under the direction of new event co-chairs KC and Ashley Crain and Joel and Liz Ewanick.
In August, the Cornerstone Leadership and Business High School opened with a Freshman class of 23 students.
The Cornerstone Leadership and Business High School adds 10th grade class and continues building expansion.
The Cornerstone Charter Schools opens the Madison-Carver Adademy and the Cornerstone Health High School on 19900 McIntyre Street in Detroit.
In 2013, Cornerstone Leadership and Business High School expanded to include 11th Grade. Cornerstone also added a Preschool program, providing opportunities for 3-year-olds to attend Cornerstone. Cornerstone was recognized by Excellent Schools Detroit as an A+ school for school climate: Effective Leaders, Collaborative Teachers, Involved Families, Supportive Environment and Ambitious Instruction.