The Alpha Institute, formerly Alpha Boys’ School, founded in 1880, was born of the vision of Jamaican Philanthropist, Jessie Ripoll. Her dream was to minister to the hopes and aspirations of Jamaicans who live on the bottom of the social ladder. As such, Alpha has long been a beacon of light and hope for the Jamaican society.
Today, Alpha Institute is a non-profit vocational and general educational school for 150 at-risk teen boys and young men from Kingston’s impoverished inner-city communities. Since 1884, the Religious Sisters of Mercy, a catholic order of nuns, have been running the school as part of their mission to serve the poor, the sick and the uneducated. The primary objective of Alpha is empowerment and transformation of young people through education and skills training, particularly for young men who have little or no opportunity for education.
Since the early 1890s, the Alpha music program has been the most prolific with graduates respected internationally for their accomplishments in jazz, ska, reggae and pop music. From Blue Note jazz musicians like Dizzy Reece to ska music pioneers the Skatalites and reggae icons such as Johnnie Osbourne and Winston Foster, a 1997 Grammy nominee, Alpha past ‘boys’ are synonymous worldwide with the development of Jamaican pop music. Alpha is a “dream factory”, according to National Public Radio (USA) for “legendary musicians” (Jamaica Gleaner) who “helped release the spirit of one of the most musical islands in the world” (The Telegraph/UK).