The Philanthropy Collaborative

Regional Case Studies

Academy Prep Center for Education
More Than a School

Academy Prep Center for EducationMiddle School is a difficult, transitory time for many of our nation's youth. Possibly none more so than the students who come to Academy Prep Center for Education in Tampa and St. Petersburg, which mentor children living in the cities' poorest neighborhoods. One of their students, Imani, was homeless when she took her first step into Academy Prep. Despite her challenging circumstances, Imani has grown to excel in English and poetry, starred as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, won the science fair two years in a row, and received a full scholarship to a premier private high school in the area. "Academy Prep is not just a school," tells Imani in the 8th Grade, "It is not just a family. Our school is a living, breathing lifestyle that I have the honor of living."

Academy Prep Center for EducationDetermined to do more for at-risk students, Tampa Bay leaders created Academy Prep Center for Education to help ensure students grow into successful adults who, in turn, give back to their communities. "The aim is to move young people from an almost predictable path toward school dropout and low paying jobs on to a road where college graduation and a productive life of leadership are the most probable outcome," tells Thomas Sansone, Chair of the Academy Prep Foundation.

Academy Prep provides an exemplary, college preparatory middle school education along with a comprehensive set of life changing services. Students attend Academy Prep up to 11 hours a day, 6 days a week, 11 months of the year, and all are provided full-tuition scholarships. In addition, students participate in extracurricular activities on afternoons and weekends. Academy Prep has accomplished all this through reaching out to mentors and community partnerships in the Tampa Bay area. Boasting over 14,000 hours of service, the children's families, along with 25 corporations and civic groups, 30 non-profits partners, and 300 individuals actively engage the children throughout the year.

Another student, Markee lost his mother and had to move into a motel shortly after enrollment in Academy Prep. Despite these traumatic circumstances, Markee blossomed as an honor roll student and as a leader of the baseball and golf teams. Markee has set himself on a course to become a lawyer, and is thankful every day for the opportunities afforded him at Academy Prep. And Markee is not alone: 95 percent of all graduates from Academy prep are currently either attending high school or college, or are pursuing careers in the working world.

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