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National Academy Foundation Career Academies

Program that Works


The National Academy Foundation (NAF) is a national network of high school career academies based predominately in urban districts. NAF Academies are schools within schools that have rigorous, career-themed curricula created through partnerships between industry and education. More than 90 percent of NAF Academy students graduate from high school, compared to 50 percent in urban areas where most Academies exist. Four out of five graduates pursue some type of postsecondary education. 

Target Population

Urban high school students in the academic middle.


Support the development of America’s youth toward personal and professional success in high school, in higher education, and throughout their careers.

Program Highlights

  • Essential academy experiences include paid internships, college and career planning, a college level course, and a computer or technology course.
  • Partnerships among local school, business, and civic communities are vital to the development and sustainability of Academies.
  • NAF provides extensive professional development to support teachers and leaders of its Academies.

The Facts

In 2009-10, NAF Academies operated in 376 public high schools and served 219 school districts in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
$14,462,537 in total expenses for 2009


Higher Education

  • American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U)


  • Kelly Services
  • KPMG
  • Marriott
  • Paxton/Patterson
  • Verizon

Non-Profit / Philanthropy

  • America’s Promise
  • Alliance for Excellence in Education
  • ConnectEd
  • National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity
  • National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC)
  • National Academy Council for Minorities in Engineering
  • Pearson Foundation
  • Project Lead the Way
  • STEM101
  • WestEd


  • Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

Evidence of Impact

Level 3NAF Academies have a positive influence on school attendance and increase high-school seniors’ college-going confidence and aspirations. 

The National Academy Foundation’s Career Academies: Shaping Postsecondary Transitions (IES Working Paper No. 17, February 2004). Seniors in 10 NAF Academies were 16 percent more likely than non-Academy seniors to apply and be accepted to a four-year college. Academy seniors were also significantly more likely to undertake college planning actions than the comparison group. (Note: The Academy of Finance is over-represented in this study.)

One independent study of NAF Academies. Another Independent, national longitudinal study conducted by MDRC of career academies includes two NAF studies in its sample.
Nearly 500 academies in 166 school districts in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Contact Information

National Academy Foundation
218 West 40th Street, 5th Floor
New York,  NY  10018

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