New Schools, New Opportunities for Success: Why Not You Academy

New Schools, New Opportunities for Success: Why Not You Academy

This feature is part of the National Alliance’s 2021 Back to School Month campaign.

Why Not You Academy will open next month to approximately 100 9th graders in Des Moines, Washington.

Nearly five years ago, co-founders Scott Canfield and Garth Reeves, both assistant principals at the time, felt inspired to bring innovation to students in an educational space where each student is known, seen, and valued. In 2018, the duo dove into planning and implemented a community co-design process, where they heard from families to learn more about the things most important to them.  Scott Canfield, co-founder of Why Not You Academy charter school in Washington state

“The best way to make deep trusting relationships with families you will be serving in the community is by going door to door introducing yourself, forming those relationships in person.” 
– Scott Canfield co-founder 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the co-founders pushed the opening date to 2021 and continued to plan. They partnered with the Why Not You Foundation, a nonprofit founded by NFL player Russell Wilson and singer Ciara that works to decrease poverty through education. Having both Russell and Ciara as role models helped to further motivate students. During interactions with students, they both encouraged scholars to set goals, put them on paper, and to have accountability partners.  

Why Not You Academy features a unique program known as Leaving to Learn. Students will identify their interests, network with individuals in those respective fields, job shadow, and participate in internships. This is all an effort to ensure learning is authentic and representative of students’ interests.  

“A major part of what we do is helping students identify their passion, their purpose, and their vision for what they want to do with their lives.”
– Scott Canfield, co-founder 

Students will create a personal learning plan where they will write out their vision statement. Academic advisors will help students plan backward to stay on track and reach their goals. The plan will be a living document and will evolve throughout the next four years.  

The first days of school will be about building community and culture to establish a safe and welcoming school environment. As members of the founding class, this year’s students will be able to decide what types of school clubs they want to start.  

“[It’s important to] help develop that growth mindset in our students and know that any mistake or bump along the road is a sign that you are getting better because you are overcoming a challenge.”
– Scott Canfield, co-founder 

The first theme of the school year will be, Coming of Age. Scholars will have an opportunity to reflect on their experiences, how they have grown through the pandemic, and how they wish to continue to grow. School leaders emphasize the idea every single day counts—and each day, students will have the opportunity to see how it connects to their post-high school aspirations.  

Why Not You Academy will continue to grow, adding a grade level each year up to 12th grade. 

“Education is a key pillar of the work we do and fundamental in our mission to develop future leaders,” stated Carly Young, executive director of the Why Not You Foundation. “The opening of the Why Not You Academy in Des Moines, Washington is a significant milestone for our organization and one that our founders Russell Wilson and Ciara hope to see replicated in other locations throughout the country in the years to come.”

Russell Wilson and Ciara outside the charter school they founded, Why Not You Academy
Russell Wilson and Ciara outside the charter school they founded, Why Not You Academy (Photo: West2East Empire)

Brittnee Exum is the manager of communications and marketing at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Learn more about Why Not You Academy in Des Moines, Washington.

Tags
help us advocate for more charter schools & increased funding!
find a charter school near you on our interactive map!

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

trophy icon

Memorial Gifts

Contact Celia Hagerman at celia@publiccharters.org or 202-600-8994.

trophy icon

Commemorative Gifts

Contact Celia Hagerman at celia@publiccharters.org or 202-600-8994.

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

STAY INFORMED

Get the latest charter school updates straight to your inbox.

shapes icon

Wire Transfers

For questions regarding wire transfers, please email of call Celia Hagerman at celia@publiccharters.org or 202-600-8994.

shapes icon

Gifts of Stock

For questions regarding stock, please email of call Celia Hagerman at celia@publiccharters.org or 202-600-8994.

shapes icon

Matching Gifts

If you or your spouse work for a company that provides matching gifts, you can make an even bigger impact! To have your gift matched, you must submit your company’s completed matching gift form.

Please send all completed matching gift forms to:

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
800 Connecticut Ave. N.W. Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006.

If this donation will be potentially matched, please provide the company name.

Advocates Council

Contact Celia Hagerman at celia@publiccharters.org or 202-600-8994.

calendar icon

Legacy Society

Contact Celia Hagerman at celia@publiccharters.org or 202-600-8994 to learn more about the Legacy Society or for any other inquiries regarding planned giving.