North Carolina's First Rosenwald School

On October 8, 1915, the Warren Grove School, North Carolina’s first Rosenwald School, was completed.  During the 1914-1915 academic year, North Carolina received funding for its first Rosenwald schools, although the Rosenwald Fund’s School Building Program did not begin until the nonprofit was incorporated in 1917. Using Tuskegee’s architectural plans for school houses as a model, the Warren Grove School in Chowan County, a two-teacher floorplan, was built for a total cost of $1,622.  The black community had contributed $486, the white community and the school system furnished $836, and Julius Rosenwald himself had contributed $300, the maximum amount initially allocated for any schoolhouse.

Sears and Roebuck president Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington established the fund to provide grants to African American communities to improve education.  By 1928 one in every five rural schools in the South was a Rosenwald school; the schools housed one-third of the region’s rural black schoolchildren and teachers. At the program’s conclusion in 1932, it had produced 4,977 schools, 217 teacher’s homes, and 163 shop buildings that served 663,625 students in 15 states. Financial aid from the Rosenwald Fund often subsidized only fifteen to twenty percent of a building’s total cost. To cover the balance, monies from local and state education departments, as well as white communities (a requirement of aid from the fund) were used. In North Carolina the fund assisted with 817 projects in ninety-three counties.