Nii Ataa Lartey established “The Sports & Cultural Academy for Street Children” in a community centre in 1986. As an impassioned social worker and sports enthusiast, Ataa Lartey combined his talents to uncover the hidden talents of youth. The Academy’s humble beginnings served just ten children from the local community in an informal, yet structured environment. Within a few years, the plight of the children and their needs shifted the Academy’s vision and mission. Densely overpopulated, Jamestown and Usher Fort suffer the all too familiar ales of African urban poverty: worn infrastructure, inadequate access to sanitation and hygiene and lack of basic education. The youth are trapped by their environment.
In 1993, The Street Academy officially registered as an NGO and relocated to the settlement behind Ghana’s famed Art Center, just meters from the sea. As an NGO, The Street Academy garnered support publically and privately to grow its mandate of providing free alternative education to Accra’s most vulnerable street children.
In nearly four decades of service, the Street Academy has cultivated thousands of students marginalized by poverty and circumstance. The Street Academy successfully reimagines futures, including boxing celebrities Joseph Agbeko, Alfred Tetteh, Anyetei Laryea, Osumani Akaba, and Tijani Moro. Addy Ankrah, Francis Martey, Sammuel Tackie and Joseph Tagoe excelled as professional footballers and Emmanuel Commey won the 2016 Best SWAG table tennis of the year. Other alumn were recruited into public service: Police, Immigration and the Navy. The self-disciple and self-empowerment approach readies children to take control of their trajectories.
Today, the Street Academy teaches nearly 80 students. During the pandemic, the Street Academy sustained food programs for their own students, as well as hundreds of Jamestown children. On average, twenty percent of the student body bridges annually into their next educational phase. The Street Academy did not allow the pandemic to derail its graduating students. Operating under advanced COVID-19 protocols, 21 graduating students attended classes weekly to pass their placement exams and be enrolled by the Ministry of Education. We are so proud of their persistence.
The Street Academy Founder Executive Director
Nii Ataa Lartey was born and raised in Greater Accra. The son of a Prison Warden, Ataa travelled throughout Ghana, moving wherever his father was stationed. Following in his father’s footsteps, he entered into the Prison Service in 1978. Ataa, a self-proclaimed sport enthusiast, strategized a platform for competition and enjoyment within work. He managed an officer’s boxing team and honed his skills in management by creating brackets, organizing fights, and inspiring players with focus and confidence. Though never an athlete himself, Atta found a balance and harmony in sports. He managed the Black Bombers National Boxing Team and guided them to the Seoul Olympics in 1986. Ataa sharpened his Sports Management and expanded his philanthropic skillset in social work at Leipzig University of Science and Sports in Germany from 1992-1994. After travelling through Finland, Holland, and the United Kingdom, he returned to Ghana. Shortly thereafter, UNICEF awarded his achievements by sponsoring courses at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.
Ataa’s tireless dedication to underprivileged youth has earned him numerous accolades over the years including: the 2020 Social Impact Award for engineering a 19-week food program for children out of school during the pandemic and High Recognition from the Non-Formal Education Division of the Ghana Education Service for supporting national literacy goals.
Ataa is the Chief of Linguistics of Prampram, holding the longest running office on the Council. He fathered four children, and considers every child at the Street Academy their siblings. His patience, empathy, and generosity are boundless.