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Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA) Honors Inaugural Graduating Class

Brooklyn, New York, June 14, 2021 – On Friday, June 18, the inaugural graduating class at Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA) Charter High School will receive their diplomas – the culmination of a groundbreaking high school journey for these 50 promising young women from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. BELA’s graduation activities will be held on the athletic fields at Boys and Girls High School (1700 Fulton Street, Brooklyn) from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Graduation events will conclude with a cherished BELA tradition – the Sisterhood Circle – for the final time for this Class of 2021.
BELA opened its doors in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 2017 with a mission that affirms “BELA students will attend and complete college.” The Class of 2021, persevering through junior and senior years upended by a global pandemic, is living the school’s mission; this pioneering group of seniors recently achieved 100% college acceptance! Collectively, the class applied to more than 150 different colleges and universities and received $900,000 in merit aid. BELA is the only all-girls high school in Bed-Stuy.
“As I reflect on this class’s journey, I no longer need to dream. They’ve achieved so much and pushed my own thinking about what is possible. The Class of 2021 is the intersection of BELA’s core values. They are a living example of people who will harness their wisdom for good, embrace their areas of growth as opportunities to get better and leverage their power and privilege to serve their communities,” says Nicia Fullwood, Head of School. 
She adds, “They will each change the world in their own way and have a seat at whatever table they choose. As trailblazers do, the Class of 2021 has enriched our community and has left an enduring impact that will inspire future generations of BELA students.” 
BELA’s graduation ceremonies will include an address from keynote speaker Taiia Smart Young. Young is a writer, editor and speaker from New York City. She has worked for Essence, Latina, XXL and Juicy magazines, and Girls Inc. Young created the Rock Your College Essay workshop to help students craft must-read personal statements. She is the author of several books, including “Famous! How to Be the Star of Your Show: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Embracing Her Fabulous Self.” 
BELA’s Class of 2021:
  • BELA’s inaugural class – the first in the school’s history!
  • Collectively, the class applied to over 150 different colleges and/or universities and completed over 5,000 hours in community service. 
  • BELA students submitted 672 individual applications! They were accepted to 74 unique schools.
  • 100% of students accepted into college.
  • 75% of students are first-generation college students. 
  • Every member of the senior class identifies as a person of color (90% identify as Black).
  • This dynamic group of young women persevered beyond the devastating global impact of COVID-19 to fulfill their destiny as BELA’s first graduating class! 
Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA) Charter School is an all-girls high school located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York with a mission to empower each young woman to be the best version of herself. Through a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, service learning initiatives and a commitment to cultivating a spirit of ownership within each young woman, BELA students will attend and graduate from college. BELA’s mission, college preparatory curriculum, student leadership opportunities, access to mental health services, and approach to building community is fostering the new generation of leaders that our communities need.


number of girls in the Class of 2021


accepted into college


community service hours as a class


candidates for an IB diploma


students traveled to Spain, Portugal and Peru