Cover image for Schools of hope : how Julius Rosenwald helped change African American education
Schools of hope : how Julius Rosenwald helped change African American education
First edition.
Physical Description:
80 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 x 27 cm
Reading Level:
1180 L Lexile
Corporate Subject:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 371.82996 FIN 1 1

On Order



When Booker T. Washington, the famed African American educator, asked Julius Rosenwald, the wealthy president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and noted philanthropist, to help him build well-designed and fully equipped schools for black children, the face of education in the South changed for the better. It was the early 1900s, a time of discrimination, racial segregation, and inadequate education for African Americans. Rosenwald created a special fund that in just twenty years built more than 5,300 schools attended by 600,000 black students. In this inspiring story, noted nonfiction writer Norman H. Finkelstein spotlights one man's legacy and the power of community action. Includes quotations, a detailed bibliography, and index.

Author Notes

Norman H. Finkelstein is the award-winning author of eighteen nonfiction books for young readers. He has won the National Jewish Book Award twice for Heeding the Call: Jewish Voices in America's Civil Rights Struggle and Forged in Freedom: Shaping the Jewish-American Experience (both Jewish Publication Society) and the Golden Kite Honor Book Award for Nonfiction for With Heroic Truth: The Life of Edward R. Murrow (Clarion Books). Three Across: The Great Transatlantic Race of 1927 was published by Calkins Creek in 2008. A resident of Framingham, Massachusetts, Finkelstein is a retired public school librarian and a longtime faculty member of Boston's Hebrew College. Visit

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-This highly accessible, beautifully illustrated book tells how a Jewish tycoon helped provide educational opportunities for countless African Americans. Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck, and Company, used his millions to support social causes like YMCAs, hospitals, and universities. In 1911, his life's purpose was forever changed after reading Up from Slavery and then meeting the author, Booker T. Washington, who introduced him to the deplorable educational opportunities offered African Americans in the South. Rosenwald put his personal philosophy of "Give While You Live" into practice by establishing the Rosenwald Fund for "the well-being of mankind." Its largest accomplishment was to help build, furnish, and staff schools for African Americans in the rural South. Before the program ended in 1932, it had contributed funds to help build more than 5300 schools. Rosenwald Schools, as they were known, operated until the 1960s when they were closed due to forced school integration. Rosenwald did not just give money to build schools-he required community "buy-in" from both the black and white communities in an effort to promote racial reconciliation. This is a fascinating look at how one man's vision changed the lives of more than 600,000 people through increased educational opportunities. The book is superbly illustrated with numerous black-and-white, excellently captioned photos. A first purchase, and of special interest for Jewish collections and communities with Rosenwald Schools.-Lisa Crandall, formerly at the Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Julius Rosenwald, the wealthy president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, established the Julius Rosenwald Fund, which among its many charitable pursuits most famously built schools: 5,357 for African Americans in fifteen Southern states, helping to create a "new black middle class." Clear writing, abundant archival photographs, and an engaging presentation of history make this a work of hope and inspiration. Websites. Bib., ind. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Finkelstein does a solid job of introducing both a person and a history most readers will know nothing about. Julius Rosenwald, the owner of Sears, Roebuck & Company, was determined to share his affluence with those less fortunate. As a philanthropist, he gave money to Jewish causes, as well as to the University of Chicago, and he helped build Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. But when Rosenwald met Booker T. Washington, he was taken aback to learn about the deplorable conditions of black schools in the South. Within 20 years, his foundation helped build more than 5,000 new schools in 15 southern states, but there was always one caveat: the community had to participate by raising money, providing labor, or both, which gave them a stake in the educational outcome. The text is a bit repetitive in places, but it clearly explains how the schools were built, the enthusiasm for them, their successes, and how the legacy of the Rosenwald schools lives on. The archival photographs are particularly well chosen and often moving. An introduction by Rosenwald's grandson adds further insight.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2014 Booklist