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From the Exception to Exceptional

The Academy is a unique enterprise founded to realize the true potential of young people from underserved communities across the United States. Designed to tap into the deep well of overlooked talent that exists nationwide, the Academy empowers youth to thrive in school, work and life.

Meet Our Expectional Students

Academy Programs

We identify and invest in exceptional young people by supporting their academic journey from elementary school, through high school and college, and into professional careers.

The Academy offers top-tier academic programming designed to accelerate growth and support success in school and college, as well as immersive career training and personalized leadership development.

Find Out About Our Programs

Academy Leaders

Co-founded and led by respected educators Shayne Evans and Timothy Knowles, the Academy staff represents the very best academics coupled with intensive career development and unparalleled access to business leaders and executive mentors.

The Academy offers top-tier academic programming designed to accelerate growth and support success in school and college, as well as immersive career training and personalized leadership development.

Find Out About Our Educators

Academy Companies & Partners

The Academy is built on a sustainable business model that aligns the commercial and social sectors.

We take an ownership stake in a diverse portfolio of commercial companies. The earned revenues from these investments fund our education programs while Academy Companies provide apprenticeship opportunities for students in high school and college, and guarantees employment to Academy graduates.

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Take the First Step to Becoming Exceptional

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Academy Students

Meet the Real Assets of The Academy

The Academy is made up of young people ages 8 to 22 with one thing in common; extraordinary talent with a clear path to become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

Dominique Taylor

Dominique Taylor is entering her senior year of high school at UChicago Charter School Woodlawn. She currently has a 3.94 GPA and is interested in applying to schools like The University of Chicago, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Howard, and University of California Riverside. Dominique is a Youth Leader and active member of her church, and does regular volunteer work to provide meals to members of her local community. Dominique also operated her own radio station in Bronzeville.

“I want to be a Chief Financial Officer. I'd like to get as much education as possible, so I can improve my chances in life, and become a successful leader. My faith is central to who I am. I believe in speaking things into being. I am excited to work with The Academy Group as I continue to relentlessly pursue my ambitions.”

Dominique Taylor

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Brieanna McCann

Brieanna McCann is entering her senior year of high school at Kenwood Academy. She has a 4.0 GPA and a 1320 SAT composite score. She is interested in applying to schools like USC, Pomona, UCLA, and Stanford. Brieanna is active in her school’s Latin Club and National Honors Society. Brieanna has a deep love for Captain America and is excited to take a film studies course this fall.

“I am really looking forward to this fall because I am going to be able to visit some of the universities I am applying to. I have never been able to visualize myself in a college setting and I can’t wait to actually be standing on these campuses and know I will be a student at one of them next year.”

Brieanna McCann

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Carlos Elosia

Carlos Eloisa is entering his senior year at Walter Payton College Prep. He currently has a 3.4 GPA and is interested in applying to schools like DePauw, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Pomona, Occidental, and Boston College. Carlos founded his own clothing business and believes his determination cannot be capped.

“I realized that just because other kids had access to better resources it didn’t make me any less smart. I can work as hard as anyone. I am incredibly excited about the Academy. It gives me huge confidence that I am going to succeed.”

Carlos Elosia

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Taofeeq Rasaki

Taofeeq Rasaki is entering his senior year at Walter Payton College Prep. He is the son of Nigerian immigrant parents. He is applying to Yale, Stanford and Columbia. He is captain of the soccer and volleyball teams and and executive board member of the Student Government. Since he could walk, he was in love with airplanes and plans to study engineering in college. His career goal is to own an airline.

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Taofeeq Rasaki

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Find out about our Academic Programs

Our Programs
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Academy Programs

Rise Above

Our foundational belief is that talent is ubiquitous and that all our students will rise to the leadership class. Academy graduates are defined by being:

  • Leadership Ready

    Trail tested employees, able to analyze with precision, solve problems effectively, communicate & collaborate with ease and lead with integrity.

  • Achievers

    Excellence manifest through very high levels of proficiency and agency and the ability to seek opportunities to demonstrate and refine their skills.

  • Learners for Life

    Curious, independent, and disciplined learners seeking new knowledge, mastery and understanding at every turn.

  • Pathfinders

    Drivers who push for goals with a positive sense of self, have clear understanding of the talents that they and their teams possess, forge their own way unafraid to explore new paths, and invent new things.

  • Leadership Ready

    Action takers who disrupt injustice, bring positive change to their own lives, our communities and the world.

We are focused on instilling ‘habits of mind’, the basis for long term professional success:

  • INTELLECTUAL GRIT
  • PERTINACITY
  • SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE
  • SELF AWARENESS
  • ZEST
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Take the First Step to Becoming Exceptional

How to Apply
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Academy Staff

Game Changers

The Academy was established by respected educators Shayne Evans and Timothy Knowles and is supported by a world-class team of educators, mentors and staff.

Meet the team charged with bringing to the fore a new generation of leaders and innovators.

Shayne Evens

Founder
Managing Partner

Previously, Evans served as the CEO of the University of Chicago Charter Schools and as a managing director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute. Evans began his career running an award winning male mentoring program while an undergraduate at the University of Illinois. Working in Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Public charter schools and an orthodox Jewish high school, Evans has been a teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, school principal, and middle school founder.

Born on the south-side of Chicago and the first in his immediate family to graduate from college, Evans has worked relentlessly for 25 years to eliminate “the belief gap” about what is possible for students of color and enhancing their sense of agency to become independent thinkers and leaders.

Timothy Knowles

Founder
Managing Partner

Previously Knowles founded and served as Director of the University of Chicago Urban Labs. Urban Labs work globally to design, test and scale policies and programs that are effective, humane and cost-efficient. At the University of Chicago Knowles also established and served as Chairman of the Urban Education Institute and the John Dewey Clinical Professor of Education.

Prior to his work in Chicago, Knowles served as the Deputy Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools and co-directed the Boston Annenberg Challenge, a nationally regarded initiative to improve literacy. Knowles also served as Director of a full-service K–8 school in New York City, founding director of Teach for America in New York, and a teacher of African history in Botswana.

Knowles has started multiple social sector organizations, holds appointments at the University of Chicago and has written and spoken widely on education and entrepreneurship.

Team Members

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

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  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

  • Carmen L. Echevaria

    Chief Of Staff

Look at some of the common questions we get asked

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Academy Companies & Partners

Guaranteed to Succeed

The Academy will prepare a new generation of innovators and leaders to make a lasting impact across the nation. As we do so, we will build a model for how the commercial and social sectors can partner to create robust paths to success for thousands of young people.

We are actively seeking out and evaluating new investment opportunities as we continue to grow our portfolio of Academy Companies. We expect to be in 10 to 15 sectors over time.

Our goal over the next decade is to establish programs in cities across the nation, serving up to 17,000 exceptional young people.

Look at some of the common questions we get asked

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FAQ

Curious to find out more?

Here are some of the common questions that we get asked.

  • What is the Academy?

    The Academy is a unique and innovative enterprise established to realize the long-term potential of young people from underserved communities across the United States. It was founded to identify and invest in exceptional young people, support their academic journey from elementary school, through high school and college, and into their careers.

  • How will Academy students benefit from this enterprise?

    The Academy offers students top-tier academic programming designed to accelerate growth and support success in school and college, as well as immersive career training and personalized leadership development.

  • How are the participating students selected?

    The Academy taps into the deep wells of often overlooked talent that exist in underserved communities nationwide.

    Students entering the Academy in elementary school are selected randomly by lottery. Those joining in high school are selected based on prior academic background, attendance and commitment to improving themselves and the world around them.

  • How are the participating teachers and mentors selected?

    Academy Faculty and staff are selected by a rigorous process, requiring demonstration of prior excellence, observations of practice, in depth interviews and numerous references. Interested candidates should submit a written letter of inquiry and resume to the Academy.

  • Can you explain the academic programming the Academy offers in greater detail? What classes do students participate in?

    The Academy offers both academic programming, including support for core academic classes, intensive seminars, and hands-on one-on-one support, a curriculum on justice and leadership development.

    Our students participate in a business curriculum – classes in economics, finance, accounting and entrepreneurship, and a justice curriculum – classes in social change, how to be engaged citizens.

    This summer, our rising high school seniors participated in college prep classes, as well as Harvard Business School case studies. In college prep, we worked on personal statements, talked through financial aid, and other basics of how to create a stellar college application.

  • When is the Academy expected to expand into other cities?

    We are focused on a successful pilot Summer Academy, and standing up the Chicago Academy this year. We anticipate establishing the Los Angeles Academy in 2018-2019.

  • What type of employment opportunities will Academy graduates be able to expect?

    The Academy guarantees a pathway to professional employment in companies across multiple sectors to all of its students who fulfill requirements and successfully graduate from college. We anticipate we will be in 10-15 sectors within the next 3-5 years. In addition to finance, we are currently looking at law, sports management, and entertainment, insurance, conservation and technology.

  • How many students participated in the Summer Academy?

    In 2017, 63 students participated in the Summer Pilot Academy. In 2018, 300 students will enroll in the Academy. By 2019 we expect approximately 1000 students in the Chicago Academy.

  • Will Academy Group graduates be indebted to the enterprise in any way after graduation?

    No.

  • What qualifications will the students come out with and will these be recognized across the United States and in other academic institutions?

    Academy students still attend traditional school. That remains a requirement of their participation. The Academy programming will make these students extraordinarily competitive – enriching successful academic careers with job and internship experience, leadership development, mentorship, entrepreneurship and start up experience. The Academy provides students the foundation to be successful in college, the workforce, and contribute in substantive ways to their communities.

  • What happens to students who complete the program but select a career that the Academy can’t support through Academy Companies?

    Clearly not all Academy students will elect to work in Academy Group companies. Our students will have broad interests and be extremely competitive in the job market. For students who elect not to work with an Academy Group company, we will provide career guidance and support.

  • Why is the Academy a superior academic path to traditional schooling?

    The Academy does not replace traditional schooling. We expect students to remain in their home schools. The Academy Group works closely with our students "host" schools to provide an additional set of supports – from additional academics, to leadership development and paid internship opportunities – for young people from underserved communities that take place in the summer, on weekends and after school.

Still Curious to Learn More?

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Take the first step to becoming exceptional

Thank you for your interest in the Academy

We are fully enrolled for 2017. If you would like to register your interest or find out more information on how to participate in the Academy beginning in 2018 please fill out the form below or send us an email directly at info@theacademy.group.

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