Preparing young men for lives of responsibility and leadership

Young Men’s Leadership Academy Additions and Renovations
Fort Worth Independent School District
Fort Worth, TX

Paul Laurence Dunbar Young Men’s Leadership Academy (YMLA) is Fort Worth ISD’s first single-gender school for boys. Young Men’s Leadership Academy (YMLA) currently occupies a 1950’s school that once housed Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary and Junior High School. Prior to 1950, the community was served by the Sagamore Hill School, a four-classroom, wood-framed building constructed in 1924.  Sagamore Hill was funded under the Rosenwald School Building Program, a collaboration between Booker T. Washington and Sears Roebuck and Company Executive Julius Rosenwald to improve the quality of public education for African Americans in the South. The facility remains on site and serves as The Center for Stop Six Heritage, Inc., a museum dedicated to preserving the heritage of the surrounding historic Stop Six Community. Founded in the early 1900’s by African-American pioneer Amanda Davis, this segregated community sat at the sixth stop on the Northern Texas’ interurban streetcar route and became known for its successful black-owned businesses.

YMLA was established in 2012 and offers students a rigorous preparatory curriculum beginning in the 6th grade. Upon occupancy of the building in 2012, minor renovations were performed on the facility to prepare for its inaugural class. The building, however, has remained largely in its former state. With the matriculation of a new class each year, the facility has reached its capacity and limit in expanding all academic and athletic programs. Upon analysis of an alternative site, it was determined the existing building would be renovated and expanded to meet the current and future needs of YMLA.

The Young Men of YMLA provided the inspiration for the “Reimagination” of their building into a collegial campus. Designers worked within the constraints of the site which fronts a residential street and is surrounded by residential properties on all other sides of the campus. Total building area has been increased from 55,000 SF to 110,000 SF. Building additions includes a new stand-alone high school building and 600-seat competition gymnasium. Included within the new gym is also a new band room, robotics lab and engineering lab.

The 1950’s building is being reimagined with a new public entrance and façade along Wiley Street. Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Systems will be upgraded to current standards, and the existing classrooms are being reconfigured and repurposed into 21st-century learning environments. In addition to the Career and Technology Education facilities constructed in the new gymnasium, the existing building will include collaboration spaces and an expanded library to support the academic curriculum of the Academy.


Electrical Engineering, Plumbing Engineering, Construction Administration, Schematic Design, Programming, Planning, Fire Protection Engineering, Architecture, Interior Design, Building Information Modeling, Mechanical Engineering

The Impact

Embracing the power of education

The renovation and addition pay homage to the Stop Six Community and celebrates the success of the Young Men who walk the halls of YMLA. The Young Men have embraced the spirit of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald to improve themselves through the power of education. For these young men, YMLA is a part of their identity and serves as a cornerstone for their development and growth. The new facility is an instrument in reaching their goals and inspirations.