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NAF launches high school academies

NAF - a national nonprofit that works with local business leaders to establish career-readiness programs in schools - is expanding its national network for the 2021-2022 school year with 50 new academies in cities across America, including St. Louis.

The St. Louis American recently reached out to NAF partners in the area, like WWT, to learn about its program expansion. Juanita Logan took time to discuss how WWT and NAF interact.

by Sophie Hurwitz 

NAF — a national nonprofit that works with local business leaders to establish career-readiness programs in schools  — is expanding its national network for the 2021-2022 school year with 50 new academies in cities across America, including St. Louis.

This year, they are opening academies — that is to say, career-readiness learning programs based around different jobs — at McCluer High School, McCluer North High School, Bryan Adams High School, STEAM Academy at McCluer South-Berkeley High School and The Innovation School. 

The “academies,” per NAF’s website, are “small, focused learning communities that fit within and enhance high school systems, allowing NAF to become an integral part of a plan for higher achievement at low cost.” Bill Taylor, Vice President of Outreach and Partnership Development at NAF, points out that this model is relatively accessible to students from all backgrounds, as it works on a basis of open enrollment; any student who wishes to enroll in an NAF academy may do so. Nationwide, students who enroll in NAF academies have a 99% high school graduation rate, even when the academies are based at schools with significantly lower graduation rates. Of those students who graduate, according to Bill Taylor of NAF, 87% go on to some type of postsecondary education. 

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Students in NAF academies generally start out their four-year trajectory with ‘career awareness activities,’ or lessons that help expose students to the different career possibilities that exist out there. Then, they allow students to actually explore those possibilities, culminating in an internship with a local company like MasterCard or KPMG. One of those companies is World Wide Technology, a major tech employer in St. Louis, where Juanita Logan serves as Area Vice President. Logan is also on the regional business advisory board for NAF. The group, she said, is always seeking more partnerships to join their educational work.

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