Kansas City Neighborhood Academy

KCNA closed at the end of the 2018-2019 school year

Kansas City, MO, March 28, 2019 — Kansas City Neighborhood Academy (KCNA), a kindergarten through 4th-grade STEAM-focused Public Charter School announced it will no longer operate after the 2018-19 school year.

KCNA began operating in 2016. Despite initial capital investments and robust student recruitment efforts, the impact of the Kansas City metro area declining population of families with school-aged children has affected the school, causing cuts or reductions in programs and services key to KCNA’s model, STEAM-focused classrooms, math and literacy labs, teachers assistants and other areas of support.

“We are proud of the progress we have made together since we first opened Kansas City Neighborhood Academy. Witnessing our teachers working with our students to help them become creative problem solvers, skilled communicators and critical thinkers has been a joy for all of us,” said Dianne Cleaver, KCNA Board President, “Unfortunately, KCNA is facing several obstacles that make our current situation unsustainable.”

KCNA intends to work alongside KC Public School District and Show me KC Schools to transition the students and staff to different schools for next school year.

“Our decision is in the best interest of our students, staff and their families,” Cleaver said, “We will always be grateful to teachers and administrators, our parents and our community partners for their unwavering support of KCNA over the years. We thank you for your partnership in providing the best possible education to your children. We will continue working to make our neighborhood and city a better place in every way possible.”

Was KCNA a private school?

– No. It was an independently run charter school in a partnership with Kansas City Public Schools.

The Kansas City Neighborhood Academy was as part of a coordinated, comprehensive revitalization effort aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty for families living in the Kansas City urban core. Life outside of the school day can impact a child’s educational achievement and overall school experience. External factors driven by concentrated poverty such as food instability, high crime, and unstable housing can impede growth among students. The school was anchor a comprehensive effort designed to link school improvement with a holistic neighborhood revitalization plan intended to tackle such negative external factors. The revitalization plan, derived from the Purpose Built Communities national model, was support children and families through mixed-income housing, cradle-to-career educational opportunities and research-informed wraparound services.

The school was operate in partnership with the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI). The Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI) is an independent 501.c.3 dedicated to revitalizing neighborhoods in a target area of the urban core to help establish a more vibrant Kansas City community. It evolved as one of the Greater Kansas City Chamber’s “Big 5” initiatives and from work of Greater Kansas City United Way. UNI works in partnership with 10 neighborhood organizations and residents and through collaborative relationships with business, industry, government and community organizations. As part of its work, UNI has embraced the Purpose Built Communities model of neighborhood revitalization. Purpose Built, a non-profit consulting firm, works with local leaders to implement a proven holistic approach to revitalizing distressed neighborhoods.

The school is based on a proven model. KCNA’s educational model is deeply aligned with that of the award-winning Charles R. Drew Charter School in Atlanta, GA. Serving over 1,500 students in grades PK-11, Drew was founded in 2000 as Atlanta’s first charter school and is the centerpiece of the nationally renowned East Lake community revitalization effort. East Lake Meadows was one of the most crime-ridden and dilapidated neighborhoods in the metro area. Over the years, Drew has grown from a start-up school with the lowest test scores in the Atlanta Public School system to one of the highest performing schools in the state of Georgia. Today, East Lake is one of the safest neighborhoods in Atlanta, and Drew is among the district’s most sought after schools.

An Innovative Approach to Learning

Born out of an innovative partnership, Kansas City Neighborhood Academy (KCNA) is the education component of a larger, community-driven neighborhood revitalization effort focused on breaking the cycle of poverty. KCNA is working with committed partners and a proven academic model to help students acquire 21st century skills and develop into tomorrow’s leaders.

The vision for KCNA was born out of a community desire to eliminate the academic achievement gap for children in the urban core in Kansas City. It is modeled after Atlanta’s Drew Charter School, a school that has effectively done so in its own community

During the revitalization of Atlanta’s East Lake community, Drew Charter School was created to provide a cradle to college education pipeline for the community, and it has proven to be a very successful approach. KCNA is seeking to replicate this model by establishing an arena for student growth, learning, and achievement at every level. By implementing a rigorous and relevant curriculum, the goal is to help ensure successful futures through college and beyond.

The academic model at KCNA is aligned with the Missouri Learning Standards. KCNA will extend student performance within the standards, by adapting resources designed to promote critical thinking, develop writing skills, and encourage interdisciplinary application. The instructional leadership team will build upon this model to strengthen the school’s curricular and instructional programs, and provide opportunities for all students to be highly successful learners.


Kansas City Neighborhood Academy (KCNA) follows a proven instructional model developed by Drew Charter School in Atlanta. With a combination of motivated teachers, a robust instructional approach using STEAM as a thematic focus, and comprehensive community support programs, Purpose Built Schools is creating a culture that will foster academic success.


Our culture emphasizes empowerment, teacher collaboration across grade levels, strong professional development, student accountability, and high parental and family engagement.


Project based learning with a strong birth – 12 continuum driven by a robust early learning program, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) as a thematic focus, an intentional RtI (tiered) model for literacy and math, and a focus on enrichment opportunities and the development of 21st century skills.


We support our schools with comprehensive community programs and services designed to address those external factors that negatively impact student achievement.


We attract experienced people motivated by high professional standards, collaboration, enrichment, and research-based practices.


Putting Students on a Path to Success

We are building a community of students, teachers, staff, and families working together to prepare all students to be successful as 21st century learners and leaders. A school-wide focus on language development and literacy underpins the school’s academic model, and KCNA is A STEAM school – or a school with a thematic focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.


Kansas City Neighborhood Academy (KCNA) is a Pre-K – 3 public charter school designed to transform educational outcomes for the children of Kansas City’s urban core.

KCNA is the result of a pioneering partnership between the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI), the neighborhoods represented within UNI, and Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS). The partnership effort is designed to highlight what can be achieved when a charter school and large public school system work collaboratively for the best interest of children.

KCNA students will be creative problem solvers, skilled communicators, and reflective critical thinkers. Each aspect of the school’s design – including grade structure, staffing plan, and intervention model – has been thoughtfully crafted to support this vision of success.


KCNA was created out of the desire to design a public charter school that would:

  • inspire adventurous and creative children – while strengthening our community
  • lead students to achieve at the highest academic levels
  • increase student enrollment in Kansas City Public Schools
  • attract new residents to the Kansas City urban core
  • provide the cornerstone for a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization effort
  • help break the cycle of poverty in the city’s urban core