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Village Academy

When Village Academy opened on SW 12th Avenue, Delray Beach, in 2000, it was the first new Palm Beach County public school in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in over 25 years. A grass-roots effort started in 1998, coordinated by the Delray Beach chapter of Men Against Destruction - Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder (MAD DADS), in reaction to poor academic achievement by the county’s minority students. Residents attributed the problem to the closing of community-based schools and bussing to achieve desegregation; students in Delray Beach were bused to 13 different schools.

Assistance in planning the school came from the Partnership for Neighborhood Initiatives and two former school superintendents, S. Bruce McDonald in Palm Beach County and Dr. Albert Mamary in Johnson City, New York. Village Academy incorporates the Beacon Concept Model developed in New York to address the needs of at-risk elementary students and their families.

Financial and technical support came from the MacArthur Foundation, United Way of Palm Beach County, Quantum Foundation, the City of Delray Beach, and private philanthropists Art and Sara Jo Kobacker, who pledged the first $400,000; the campus is named for them.

Village Academy started as an elementary school in 2000, adding grades to become Palm Beach County’s only K-12 public school in 2010. Palm Beach County funds the standard operating costs, while the community, MAD DADS, and philanthropic partners support the standards and programs of the Beacon model. The school's goal for every student is to attend college with a Bright Futures scholarship from the State of Florida. Additional community and family services ensure support of all aspects of the students’ lives.

ABC Nightline highlighted the Village Academy in January 2001 as an example of a community that overcame bureaucratic barriers. The school received a "B" grade from the Florida Department of Education for the 2007-08 school year.



Delray Beach, an All-American City 

In 2001 the City of Delray Beach was honored with the “All-America City” award for creating programs to assist its youth, low-income senior citizens, and students and families of the Village Academy, a school for at-risk students.



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