School Gets On-Site Barbershop And Beauty Salon


As students prepare to head back to school, there is something that many believe is as essential as new clothes, backpacks and other necessities. Some youngsters don’t want to go back to school without it. That something is a fresh haircut and hairstyle. But for some students, finances prevent them from going to a barber for a cut or to a stylist to have their hair done. But thanks to a recent grant award, finances will no longer serve as a barrier for National Academy Foundation School of Baltimore (NAF).

The school was the recipient of a grant award from Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation (RBCF). The grant award provided installation of a five-station, full-service barbershop/beauty salon onsite at the school. The barber/beauty salon will offer no-charge grooming services to students who lack access to regular hygienic care.

NAF is located at 540 North Caroline Street, on the historic Dunbar campus in east Baltimore. The Baltimore City Public School serves students in grades six to 12. NAF occupies two buildings on the campus. One building, the historic Thomas G. Hayes building, houses their middle school students. That school is referred to as NAF Prep. The other building, the historic Dunbar Middle School building, houses their high school students. The barbershop/beauty salon will be housed on the first floor of the middle school.

National Academy Foundation School of Baltimore’s barbershop/beauty salon will be housed on the first floor of the middle school.

Courtesy Photo

National Academy Foundation School of Baltimore’s barbershop/beauty salon will be housed on the first floor of the middle school.

Robert Cradle is the founder of RBCF, a full-service, non-profit barber and beauty salon that provides weekly no-charge grooming services to clients.

“The project was created when we assessed that approximately 260 students lacked access to regular grooming services,” said Cradle. “Students will now have the ability to attend school with a neat and clean appearance.”

According to Cradle, the shop will receive an operations manual, supplies, technical support from him until the end of this year, and other resources. Cradle said any agency, shelter, social service agency, or public school can apply for the grant. He is a Master Barber, and formerly owned and operated Rob’s Barbershop Shop.

“At least 23 percent of the school’s clientele live in foster or group homes, in kinship care or similar situations,” he said. “Those types of situations lend themselves to students not getting their hair groomed regularly. Stipends for foster and kinship care does not include grooming. Most of the time, grant applicants need to provide grooming services continually. It’s great when they have the space to accommodate the grooming facility. All of those things are taken into consideration when we review applications.”

Cradle estimated that costs can range as low as low as $2,500 and as high as $25,000.

“Our goal is to always give our donors the greatest impact for their gifts by creating the most cost-effective ways to make grooming services accessible to any population with barriers to regular hygienic care,” said Cradle.

The barbershop/beauty salon marked RBCF’s 12th installation of a barber/beauty shop exclusively for targeted populations lacking access to regular grooming services. The organization also provides pop-up shops, which provides barber and salon services at pre-determined locations, generally during a one-day period.

Master Barber Robert Cradle is the founder of Rob's Barbershop Community Foundation.

Courtesy Photo

Master Barber Robert Cradle is the founder of Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation.

Cradle is the recipient of numerous awards including the Dunkin’ Donuts Community Hero Award for his outstanding work to make his community a better place to live.

Delana Penn, Library Media Specialist for NAF, wrote the grant for the school.

“The key purpose was to increase our attendance and decrease our behavior issues,” she said. “I was so excited to hear we had been awarded. It’s a great opportunity for our students. Data shows that when they don’t look good, they act out or don’t go to school.”

According to Penn, the shop will be open every Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. She said approximately nine barbers and hair stylists will rotate. She said the shop also boasts a flat screen television, DVD player, and a child chair seat. The shop, which had its grand opening on Monday, August 27, 2018, has already started providing free haircuts and hairstyles.

“The shop will also offer ‘Chair Talk Mentoring,’ in which barbers will build rapport with the students and offer good, strong advice,” said Penn. “The shop is fabulous.”

To apply for a RBCF Grant, visit