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Our History

A Legacy of Education


Timbuktu Academy first opened its doors to serve the community of Trenton, NJ in September, 1982. Its original name was Dar-ul-Aulad, which means ‘Home of Children’. The name was changed in 1983/84 in order to depict the University of Timbuktu in Mali, West Africa which was a great center of learning for people of Africa and the entire world, including all races and religious beliefs. The name change was an invitation to all residents from the city of Trenton, NJ and vicinity to bring their early childhood aged children to receive quality early childhood educational experience in a nurturing and welcoming environment.….


The founders are Umar Abdul-Raheem, a native New Yorker and his wife, Jamilah Abdul-Raheem a native of Trenton, NJ, whose entire grade school education was within the Trenton Public school system and who is also an alumnus of Rutgers University. Jamilah was a stay-at-home mother with an eagerness to become an entrepreneur. The Abdul-Raheems were also parents to four young children two of whom were preschool age. The decision was made to offer educational childcare services to the community after the early childhood center at Mercer County Community College James Kerney Center was closing. Ms. Abdul-Raheem had a family member who was employed at the MCCC Early Childhood Center and after a few discussions with her and other family members the decision was made to start our center. There was limited funding for our start up – a $200.00 loan from Ms Abdul-Raheem’s mother. That was the financial root of our humble beginning. 

We had our opening that September with two students from the community in addition to the Abdul-Raheems two youngest children. The very next week enrollment increased, within 3 months enrollment increased to twenty-five students. We never advertised and  kept a waiting list of names of parents who sought the Timbuktu Academy experience. Our early childhood program consisted of a preschool program and a full-day kindergarten program. We served approximately twenty families over the course of eighteen years. If a child ‘graduated’ from Timbuktu Academy that indicated that their kindergarten year was completed there. Kindergarten was a convenience to many parents who found relief in knowing their child could receive they kindergarten education at the same location they received their preschool education without having the concerns of half-day kindergarten programs. Our students left TA well prepared for first grade and beyond. Some of our graduates were so academically advanced they were offered opportunity to skip some first-grade programs. Our students continued to excel in their respective elementary grade studies and beyond. Currently as young adults they can be found in various careers from service providers in the community, directors of programs and business managers, entrepreneurs, professional performing artists to holders of doctorate degrees,


Our CEO & Founder


We are now providing services under our new name, Timbuk2 Academy .  Timbuk2 Academy is currently under the leadership of one of Timbuktu Academy’s original students, Ayana Abdul-Raheem,  daughter of its founders. The expansion includes early childhood services and programs for youth aged 3 to age 22 years. These services include cultural arts, rite of passage personal development programs for blossoming young ladies, aviation, counseling and much more!  

We sincerely appreciate all of the support we have received over the years; fundraisers, volunteers, donations of materials and professional advice. We invite you to embrace and support our expansion and resurrection under the auspices of Timbuk2 Academy.

Our CEO & Founder


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