Private School Shatters Fundraising Goal, Ups Bar

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(Image courtesy of The Oaks Academy.) (Image courtesy of The Oaks Academy.)

The chief executive officer of an Indianapolis urban private school network says an overachieving fundraising campaign will move growth plans to an "all together different trajectory." Andrew Hart says, with the help of an additional $2 million in donations The Oaks Academy is now seeking, it would add teachers, infrastructure and make facility improvements to boost enrollment from the current 815 to more than 1,200. The prekindergarten-8th grade network, which has three campuses in Indianapolis, exceeded its recent $4 million fundraising goal by $1.5 million.

The Oaks Academy's focus is to educate a "racially and socioeconomically-balanced student body in challenged neighborhoods," and Hart said the schools fill a major gap. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, he said "we're not the panacea for the woes of education and the woes of urban centers, but we feel like we're a part of the solution and we're bringing hope where hope is desperately needed."

The initial scope of its fundraising efforts was to boost enrollment to 870. Hart says with the $5.5 million raised and the $2 million more the academy hopes to raise, it will broaden its impact and hit its ramped-up enrollment targets by 2024. "Beyond that, hopefully we can launch other schools or have greater impact in neighborhoods, maybe in other cities," he told Multimedia Journalist Mary-Rachel Redman. "There's need for schools like this. There's tremendous need."

The school, founded in 1998 with a class of 54 students, has attracted attention for its academic success and focus on educating students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Eighty percent of the student body receives tuition assistance. In 2015 and 2017, ranked number one in the state for its ISTEP scores.

"The urban aspect of the Oaks -- that's part of the magic, because it gives students an opportunity to be in a relationship with children unlike themselves, both by class and by race," Hart says, "and that experience is so rare that we want to invest in that."

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