About NAF

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Special thanks to Verizon Communications for producing this video.


The National Academy Foundation (NAF) is a leader in the movement to prepare young people for college and career success.  For over 30 years, NAF has refined a proven educational model which includes industry-focused curricula, work-based learning experiences, and business partner expertise from five themes: Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, Engineering, and Health Sciences.  More than 5,500 business professionals volunteer in classrooms, act as mentors, engage NAF students in paid internships, and serve on local advisory boards.

Founded in 1982 by Sanford I. Weill, Chairman Emeritus of Citigroup, NAF fosters partnerships between the business and education communities to provide opportunities to underserved students. Weill’s original intent was to connect young people to entry-level jobs in New York City's growing financial sector. His program did much more than that.  His vision led to a national movement of preparing students for successful careers.

After Weill received approval for his new academy plan from the New York City Board of Education, the first academy, an Academy of Finance opened at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn, NY in 1982. Since then, the NAF network has grown to 667 academies and serves more than 80,000 students across 38 states, including D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NAF's 97% graduation rate and network of dedicated educators, business partners, and students are testament to the effectiveness of this model.

What is a Career Academy?
Career academies focus on preparing students for post-secondary education while providing them with the skills and experience necessary to attain entry-level jobs. Students in career academies typically take both career-themed and academic classes together. These courses are linked to academic and industry standards and encourage high achievement.

What Distinguishes a NAF Academy?
The NAF model is built around four essential elements of practice:

  • Academy Development and Structure: The NAF academy structure promotes admission that is open to all students; is designed with small classes; and allows for teacher collaboration across subject areas.
  • Advisory Board: Teachers and academy directors rely on advisory boards, made up of local business, higher education, and community leaders, to provide current industry context and to secure funding, volunteers, and internships.
  • Curriculum and Instruction: NAF curricula are created in partnership with industry professionals and designed around projects that help students make connections across subject areas, acquire valuable workplace skills, and see their education as a step toward long-term career options.
  • Work-based Learning, including Internships: Academy students participate in a series of work-based learning activities, culminating in compensated internships, designed to provide context and career exposure and build their professional experience and networks.

Each of these elements is comprised of three to five standards that articulate important aspects of the NAF model. These standards are measured annually through a detailed assessment process. Through this process, NAF is able to provide customized support to help academies improve and grow.



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