K. Chase Patterson believes that schools can be a powerful force in the revitalization of communities. And as the new chairman of the board of the Larimer Consensus Group and CEO of the Urban Academy in Larimer, he is directing his years of experience in education and business to support the growth of the Larimer community.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Patterson is a proud product of the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the University of Pittsburgh.
After his studies, Patterson started his professional career at the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, a large social service non-profit in Southwestern Pennsylvania. While there, he established the Black Male Youth Summit, now known as the Black Male Leadership Development Institute, which offers year-long educational and leadership programs to African American males in grades nine through twelve. This included teaching courses at Wilkinsburg High School to help seniors and juniors prepare for college. He also joined the board of the Urban League Charter School, founded in 1998.
During this time, Patterson remembers then Illinois state senator Barack Obama speaking at the Democratic National Convention and saying, “We are not red states and blue states, but we are the United States.”
“Those words, as eloquent as they may have been, weren’t realized in my daily work as an educator,” he said.
Watching students fall by the wayside and working with seniors who couldn’t read at a 5th-grade level, what Patterson saw was a broken system.
“When I learned that I was going to be a father, there was no better motivator than that to get off the sidelines and get in the fight for equity in education,” he said.
At that point, Patterson left the board of the Urban League Charter School and became the organization’s business manager. When the board decided that it wanted to rebrand and grow, it selected Patterson as the chief operating officer to lead turnaround efforts.
The school changed its name to the Urban Academy and relocated from its space in the B’nai Israel synagogue to a new building in Larimer to accommodate its needs.
In 2017, Patterson became CEO of the Urban Academy and ever since has been responsible for ensuring the Urban Academy’s financial stability, prioritizing students learning outcomes, ensuring that teachers and staff have the resources they need to be successful, as well as engaging and supporting families and the larger school community. Over the past seven years, the school has nearly doubled its budget through increased enrollment and foundation support.
“The Urban Academy is working to demonstrate that when disadvantaged children, specifically Black children, are learning in an environment that is safe, centered on them and their culture, includes high expectations and the resources necessary to meet the expectations, all children can succeed and achieve greatness,” he noted.
Patterson’s decision to get involved with the Larimer Consensus Group stemmed from the recognition of the important role that learning institutions play in stabilizing and growing neighborhoods and communities.
As LCG works on updating its strategic plan and develops resident-driven design standards, among other things, Patterson hopes that this perspective can be of service and that the two organizations can work together to help uplift the community.
“I look forward to helping lead LCG during this critical time.”