Impactful grants: MAS Charter School, Yale and Old Coors campuses

In 2012, Mission Achievement and Success (MAS) Charter School opened in Albuquerque, led by founder and CEO JoAnn Mitchell. JoAnn had originally been authorized to open a school that served students in grades 6-12. But, after just a few years, JoAnn concluded that MAS needed to start working with students in their earliest years of schooling in order to keep them from falling behind.

Today, MAS serves more than 2,300 students in grades PreK-12 and maintains a lengthy waiting list. 100% of MAS graduates have been admitted to college or the military, and the school’s literacy and math rates far outperform those of New Mexico and Albuquerque, all with MAS serving a student body that is over 80% low-income.

Excellent Schools New Mexico has made two substantial grants to MAS over the past five years. In 2018, we made the first startup capital grant to the school to help it launch its second campus on Albuquerque’s Southwest Mesa, with the aim of helping MAS serve the 1,000+ students on its waiting list. More recently, we made a growth capital grant to the school to help it serve another 860 students across its two campuses. At full-scale, MAS will serve over 3,100 New Mexico students.

Here is how JoAnn described MAS’ philosophy in a 2022 interview with New Mexico Education:

“I felt strongly that we needed a school that involved parents. We needed a school that pushed kids to be able to access college, regardless of where they began academically. We needed a school that provided full inclusion for kids who were identified as having special needs.

And above all, we needed a school that changed belief systems. You have to change beliefs and mindsets. That’s not pushing my values on kids. It’s changing that limited mindset, that I’m not capable, that I’m not smart, that I’m not good at school, that certain people are meant for college and it’s not for me.

A lot of times with our families it’s not that they’re not pushing their kids because they want to hold their kids back. They just don’t know what that other side of the world looks like.

It’s all about opening doors of opportunity. That involves three things. It’s academic, it’s the culture of college, and then deep, deep changes and shifts around mindset, really helping with those resiliency skills, really helping with the self-advocacy, really helping with the problem solving, the perseverance, the grit.

Those things are values that if somebody doesn’t teach you, I don’t know how you develop them over the course of life unless you stumble upon them. I was lucky enough to have that happen to me, but why leave it to chance?”

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