top of page

Our Founder

Ayana Abdul-Raheem

Head of School

Hailing from a family of educators, Ayana Abdul-Raheem discerned her passion for education at a very young age. Ms. Abdul-Raheem is the CEO and Founder of the Timbuk2 Academy; a 2nd generation independent Afrocentric educational institution in Trenton, NJ and bornWORTHY. , a subsidiary of Timbuk2 Academy. Ayana's background consists of over two (2) decades of cultural curriculum development, law enforcement, social services, athletic coaching and teaching the performing arts and west African dance to name a few. Expounding upon the legacy of Timbuktu Academy, founded by her parents in the early 80's, in December 2018, Ayana advanced the Academy's mission beyond early childhood education by  including personal development programs for girls and young women. Under her leadership, Timbuk2 Academy received Citizens Bank 2022 Community Champion award and solidified national and international partnerships and collaborations with high profile colleges and universities; Rutgers University, University of California Additionally, Ayana's abilities to develop curriculum and produce tangible outcomes with some of the most challenging youth resulted in Timbuk2 Academy's selection to lead initiatives centered around violence against women, and the State of New Jerseys  (central region) 1st Juvenile Justice Collaborative for girls.


Prior to stepping into her current position, Abdul-Raheem challenged herself with a career  law enforcement with the Trenton Police Department; designing and managing diversion, intervention and preventive programs for high-risk youth and juvenile offenders. Her leadership contributed to significant decline in recidivism, chronic absenteeism and crimes involving juveniles in the city of Trenton. In 2010,Ayana was invited to join the New Jersey Governor Young Women’s Action Alliance Committee. The committee addressed the rising number of girls entering the Juvenile Justice System, and advocated the increase of gender responsive, culturally implicit programs and services for system impacted girls in New Jersey and throughout the United States.


Ayana's experiences on the committee, in conjunction with maintaining a consistent juvenile caseload of 60% girls, led her to the realization that there were no resources and/or programs for system impacted girls in the city of Trenton. A proactive problem solver, in 2017,Ayana took matters into her own hands and began hosting “girls only” sessions; specifically targeting system impacted girls. These sessions ignited a vision which quickly evolved into HEY GIRL! Blossoming into Joy, a cultural rite of passage for girls and young women; also, the 1st program administered under Timbuk2 Academy Youth Services Division, In December 2020,HEY GIRL! Blossoming into Joy, was selected by the Office of the New Jersey Attorney to be administered in the juvenile detention facilities for girls in New Jerey.


A current member of the Collation for Juvenile Justice based in Washington, DC, Ayana continues to study, train and advocate on behalf of disenfranchised children.

Raised in Trenton, NJ,Ayanaearned a B.S. in Sociology from New Jersey City University and a Masters in Early Childhood Education. She is also a certified NFA- Youth Fire Setting Intervention Specialist. Ayana enjoys hiking in inature, laughing, thrifting, reupholstering furnitre and bacically anythign related to thte arts.

"I develop and deliver CULTURAL CURRICULUM for young children, girls and young women who are UNDER-ESTIMATED in the diaspora! I STRENGTHEN their Sense of Self despite them being involved in the system, so they believe they were BORN-WORTHY and NOT as a BURDEN! " ~ Ayana Abdul-Raheem

bottom of page