Happy 20th: City Academy
Sometime it’s difficult to measure success when celebrating a milestone, but that’s not the case for City Academy. The independent school in St. Louis city turns 20 this year, and president and co-founder Don Danforth III says the school’s achievements are evident in its students and alumni. “The highlight of the last two decades has been seeing our students thrive in and out of the classroom,” he says. The school is dedicated to eliminating barriers to education and empowering children, their families and the community.
Danforth says he and co-founder Duncan Marshall came up with the idea for City Academy through their work with the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club. “I discovered there are so many talented young people who need more opportunities for learning,” Danforth says. In an effort to help overcome any fiscal and geographical barriers to education, they opened City Academy in 1999 with an enrollment of 42 children in junior kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade; now, the school has classes through sixth grade. This school year, it moved into renovated learning spaces, which will allow it to grow its student population to 250. It also will expand its reach with a new class for 3-year-olds in the 2019-2020 school year.
“Our students make the most of the opportunities they are given here,” Danforth says. “They come prepared for success as scholars and distinguish themselves in high school and beyond.” The school uses a specialist model of teaching, which means instructors are experts in their content areas. Another major piece of its unique program is music; students attend daily music lessons and receive their own violins and instruction starting in first grade. The discipline and endurance required to learn the instrument nurtures character development and intellectual skills, according to Danforth. “We build a foundation for success, so students are ready to meet any challenges head on,” he says.
And the dedication to students’ growth and success does not end with graduation. City Academy alumni continue to receive support as they transition into secondary schools. The school’s STRIVE for College program partners with Washington University to provide intensive and personalized academic support like tutoring, test prep and help with college applications.
More than 90 percent of the school’s students come from unaccredited and underperforming districts, and they travel from as far away as Illinois and St. Charles. A unique scholarship program allows students to attend regardless of financial background. All students receive tuition support based on their families’ income. City Academy must raise $10,000 annually to support each student, according to Steffani Lautenschlager, chief development officer. The school is able to offer this level of assistance thanks to countless individual donors and community partners. “The support of the community makes our mission possible,” Danforth says.
To celebrate its anniversary, City Academy is throwing a 20th Birthday Bash April 27 at Grant’s Farm. Lautenschlager says the fundraising goal is $225,000, which will help provide scholarships for all students. “The evening will be fun, festive and very mission-driven,” she notes. Along with cocktails, dinner and an auction, guests will enjoy music performed by alumni and staff. “Education is a critical foundation for success, and City Academy has developed an incredible program and environment for its students,” says Julie Baur, co-chair of the Birthday Bash. “It provides hope for the future and contributes to the health and livelihood of our beloved St. Louis community.”
Founded in 1999, City Academy uses exceptional education and bold expectations to transform the community and empower all children, regardless of their families’ financial backgrounds. Its 20th Birthday Bash is April 27 at Grant’s Farm. Pictured on the cover with students Sophie and Christian, clockwise from top left: Tamyka Perine, event co-chairs Kristen Holton and Julie Baur. For more information, call 314.880.5010 or visit cityacademyschool.org.
Cover design by Julie Streiler | Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography
Pictured at top: Stephanie Briggs, recipient of the 2019 City Academy Alumni Service Award, and Don Danforth III
Photo courtesy of City Academy
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