NAF (non-profit organization)

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Non-profit organization
Founded 1982
Headquarters New York, New York
Key people
Sanford I. Weill, Chairman

Chairman Emeritus, Citigroup
Kenneth I. Chenault, Vice Chairman Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, American Express Company

JD Hoye, President, NAF

NAF (formerly known as National Academy Foundation) is an educational non-profit organization. The mission of NAF is to solve some of the biggest challenges facing education and the economy by bringing education, business, and community leaders together to transform the high school experience. NAF's educational design ignites students' passion for learning and gives businesses the opportunity to shape America's future workforce by transforming the learning environment to include STEM infused industry-specific curricula and work-based learning experiences, including internships. Since 1982, NAF has been partnering with existing high schools in high-need communities to enhance school systems at a low cost by implementing NAF academies – small learning communities within traditional high schools.


NAF was created by philanthropist Sanford I. Weill. His proposal was accepted by the New York City Board of Education to open the first Academy of Finance in a Brooklyn public high school, John Dewey High School, in 1982. The program was designed specifically to address the disconnect between the need for skilled workforce talent and the lack of opportunity for young people in New York City.

As Weill explained in his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee:

You saw young people playing in the street, young people without having a clue of what life was about, and how they can become part of the system. That was the beginning of the idea that maybe the private sector should get together with the public sector and see if we can create a high-school level program that can expose young people for a career in the financial services industry.

In 1987, NAF's Hospitality and Tourism theme was launched with the opening of two pilot Academies, one in Miami, Florida and another in Richmond Hill, New York, with support from the American Express Foundation.

In 2000 NAF piloted a third theme, opening Academies of Information Technology in 12 high schools across the country with support from Lucent, AT&T Corporation, United Technologies, GTE/Verizon, Oracle, Computer Associates and Compaq.

In 2002, the first set of Career Academies outside the US were set up in the United Kingdom by Career Academies UK, affiliated with NAF.

In 2007 NAF launched its fourth academy theme, the Academy of Engineering as a collaboration between NAF, Project Lead The Way (PLTW), and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME) to provide underrepresented students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in STEM careers.

The latest theme launched in 2011–2012, the Academy of Health Sciences is already making an impact in preparing young people for health careers.

As of the 2015–2016 school year, there are 716 NAF academies, which serve over 88,684 students, and operate in 36 states, including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

NAF supports a national network of 88,684 students in 716 academies:[1]

  • 209 academies of finance
  • 93 academies of hospitality and tourism
  • 127 academies of information technology
  • 124 academies of engineering
  • 92 academies of health sciences

For the school year of 2017-18, NAF served 104,261 students in 644 academies across the country. NAF's academies are located in 36 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Purposes and components

"College prep plus" aptly describes the career academies of the NAF. NAF sponsors these differing institutions of learning to encourage and facilitate both preparation for college and technical training in a career path.[2]

NAF academies can be characterized as 'schools within schools' and serving a small community of students for two or more years. Normally these academies are run and taught by the same teachers for a number of semesters. During that time a number of different components come together to prepare students for both a potential career and going onto college. The teachers of the academies generally are skilled in both academic and the technical knowledge of the field in which the academy is focused. They meet often to coordinate the curriculum, take care of administrative details and are involved outside the classroom with local businesses and sponsors.[3]

Summer internships of about six to eight weeks are centerpieces of the academy programs and usually pay the students for their work. During the internship the students spend some time training and often report to a school staff supervisor and sometimes have a workplace mentor.[4] Seniors in the program combine work-based learning with corresponding curricular activities to learn more about the industry, job, "explore careers, plan for college, and develop their social and interpersonal skills."[5]

There have been significant reports and statistics on the outcome of students from these Career Academies. Milton Chen, author of Education Nation and former executive director for the George Lucas Educational Foundation, sums up the most recent reports:

  • In comparison with non-academy students, graduates of NAF institutes earn on average of 11% more per year in the eight years after graduation.
  • While most academies are located in urban areas where the average high school graduation rate is 50%, over 90% of NAF students graduate high school
  • Over half of these graduates earn bachelor's degrees in four years while the national average is only 32%.[6]

Currently NAF focuses on five career themes: Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, Engineering, and Health Sciences. These themes are carried out by teachers supported by NAF professional development, training, technical support and curriculum. NAF academies usually run throughout the high school experience to better prepare students for college and/or a career.[7]

List of governing academies

See also


  1. ^ NAF. "Find an Academy". Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  2. ^ David Stern, Charles Dayton, and Marilyn Raby. Career Academies: A Proven Strategy to Prepare High School Students for College and Careers. University of California Berkeley. Updated February 10, 2010 pp30
  3. ^ David Stern, Charles Dayton, and Marilyn Raby pp5
  4. ^ Orr, Margaret Terry; Hughes, Katherine L; Karp, Melinda Mechur. Shaping Postsecondary Transitions: Influences of the National Academy Foundation Career Academy. IEE Brief. 29 April 2003 pp3
  5. ^ Orr, Margaret Terry; Hughes, Katherine L; Karp, Melinda Mechur pp4
  6. ^ Chen, Milton. Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools. Jossey-Bass a Wiley Imprint, San Francisco 2010 pp 56
  7. ^ David Stern, Charles Dayton, and Marilyn Raby pp. 6–7

External links

  • Official website
  • Career Academies UK
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