Group of students and youth and adult facilitators participate in BASSE's Youth Leadership Lab.

The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence (BASSE) is excited to start the process of enrolling 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students for the 2024-2025 school year. BASSE is a Georgetown-based free, public charter school focused on service-learning opening next fall.

“After the success of our Youth Leadership Lab, I’m very excited to welcome our students in the 2024 school year,” said BASSE’s Founding School Leader, Chantalle Ashford. “The youth leaders from our summer program built a strong foundation for our school community. We will continue to build on their work throughout the year and next school year.”

Students who participated in BASSE’s Youth Leadership Lab, a partnership with the nonprofit UP for Learning, have already made a mark on the school, contributing to the initial school culture and implementation plans. As a part of the program, students planned out three projects related to BASSE’s design: personalized learning, service learning, and scheduling.

The UP for Learning team, which will continue to support BASSE by hosting three more convenings of the students, is excited to continue this work.

Lindsey Halman, executive director of UP, shared that, “UP for Learning is grateful to be a partner with BASSE, especially with the alignment between the school, Bryan Stevenson’s life work, and UP’s own principles. At the core of UP’s beliefs is that every young person has a right to experience authentic and engaging learning within a caring community, seeding a life of learning and even joy.” UP believes it is essential that young adolescents make relevant connections to their own lives through their learning. She continued, “Building on the incredible work of the youth who attended the Youth Leadership Lab, UP will support the Student Voice Advisory in their continued work to design an innovative and engaging learning environment for all BASSE students!”

BASSE is building a pathway for leadership within Sussex County that starts with students. Through proximate service-learning experiences and a personalized and rigorous academic curriculum, they seek to cultivate students’ commitment to stay engaged and dedicated to Sussex County.

A core component of keeping student futures connected to Sussex County is preparing them for their life in high school and afterward. Through the Rethinking Middle Grades grant, supported by the Rodel Foundation and the Delaware Department of Education, BASSE is ensuring the design of their middle grades’ offerings is innovative by providing students with opportunities to participate in experiential and career-specific learning. BASSE is bringing together a group of students, parents, industry, and community partners to help co-design and provide feedback on these plans to innovate; a strategy that is aligned with their vision and mission.

The mission of BASSE, inspired by the words of its eponym, Bryan Stevenson, “Proximity is a pathway through which we learn the kind of things we need to know to make healthier communities,” is to provide opportunities for students through a service-learning lens combined with academic rigor.

Stevenson, originally from Milton, Delaware, is a widely acclaimed social justice activist, lawyer, and the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala. He and his staff have won reversals, relief, or release for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. Stevenson has helped initiate major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge the legacy of racial inequality in America and educate communities about slavery, lynching, and racial segregation.

Stevenson continues to be lauded for his work and is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy. Michael B. Jordan portrayed him in the 2019 feature film that adapted Just Mercy which also starred Jamie Foxx. Most recently, Mr. Stevenson and BASSE were honored to be featured in Delaware Today magazine’s annual Kids Issue.

“Proximity is at the core of what we do,” BASSE Founder and Board Chair Dr. Teresa Berry noted. “We are excited to continue to work with our community partners to provide programs and services to our students as we work towards our 2024 opening.”

To date, BASSE has engaged 226 parents in a pre-enrollment survey, and 91% of respondents have indicated their intention to enroll their children in the school next fall. Applications to attend BASSE open in November for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. For more information or to complete the survey, visit