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The mission of Maranathan Academy is simple – to save the lives of critically at risk youth. Maranathan Academy is dedicated to, through the transformative power of education-

  • provide an educational oasis for individuals in desperate need of a second chance

  • provide academic, spiritual and emotional strength for critically at risk youth and their families

  • assist each graduate to become a productive, contributing member of society

Primary Goal

The primary goal of Maranathan Academy, is to break the cycle of  government dependency, that has plagued the families of critically at-risk youth for generations.

Maranathan Family Learning Center & Academy, Inc. is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) school specializing in critically at risk youth. It was founded on September 3, 1991 by Donna Dukes, a Birmingham native who graduated in May of 1991, as Valedictorian with Suma Cum Laude honors from Miles College. Volunteering at a juvenile detention center during senior year changed Donna’s life. She was going to be a lawyer and specialize in juvenile offenders. But, when she volunteered at JDC, she was impressed by the kids, and couldn’t find a school willing to accept expelled students. Some of the kids were as young as 12, and had been expelled for two years! Donna knew then what her calling was, and decided not to pursue law school, but to found Maranathan Family Learning Center and Academy, Inc. She started Maranathan with one student, one table and four chairs with the encouragement of her mother Jacquelyn B. Dukes, a renowned educator who taught for nearly 40 years.  In 27 years, Maranathan has graduated over 300 critically at-risk youth and adults.  With the combined numbers of students and their family members who receive services, Maranathan Academy has significantly and positively impacted over 1, 500 lives. 

Donna Dukes chose to make critically at risk youth aware of trade schools, as well as collegiate opportunities, which sets Maranathan apart from other schools working with challenged youth. Maranathan Academy successfully guides students towards their prospective career paths, to which they are best suited. Such was the case of Cornelius (Neil), who entered Maranathan Academy as a 17 year old 7th grader with tremendous behavioral and lifestyle challenges. After graduating from Maranathan, Neil went on to become a certified welder, and today is a homeowner, husband, father and the proud owner of his own business.

Maranathan’s students, come from challenging circumstances,  the majority  have been expelled from traditional school, while others  have experienced bullying,  traumatic incidents or had adjustment problems that made it difficult to focus on learning. Whatever the circumstances, Maranathan is here for them. Students enter Maranathan wounded and looking for a place to belong. They emerge equipped to excel. At Maranathan, students benefit from counseling services, workshops on financial literacy, life skills training, and more. Maranathan’s graduates are thriving in the corporate and service areas, like law enforcement, banking, cosmetology, law, welding, nursing. Maranathan Academy is fortunate to have Teachers, Counselors, Staff and Volunteers dedicated to the education and development of critically at-risk youth and adults.

 Maranathan Academy has been saving the lives of critically at-risk youth for 27 years!

Donna Dukes - Founder & Executive Director

Donna Dukes, Founder/Executive Director of Maranathan Academy, was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She attended and graduated Suma Cum Laude from Miles College in 1991, and immediately began giving back into her community. Donna founded the Maranathan Academy, September 3, 1991, a 501c3 non-profit school and learning center, to address the needs of critically at -risk youth and adults. Over the last 25 years Donna has continued to impact the lives of over 1,500 individuals, who are critically at-risk, and graduate more than 300 students from Maranathan Academy. Her focus and passion is to take the children no one else wants, teens suspended or expelled from school, academic failure, abandonment, parental abuse, violent and drug related. She has created a safe haven for countless teens who have been the victims of increasingly pervasive bullying.

Donna credits her amazing success to being blessed with great parents, who instilled in her at an early age, the importance of strong work ethics, academic readiness and faith. Donna's life goal is simple - to help Critically-At-Risk Youth and Adults attain their dream of earning a high school diploma; to improve self-esteem, and to promote inclusiveness, acceptance and personal responsibility.

Donna Dukes, Founder & Executive Director

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