Sandy Weill can be very persuasive.   About three years ago, a consultant enjoying a Bay Area lifestyle found the former Citi CEO’s pitch good enough to convince her to commute to New York City every week.

Sandy formed National Academies Foundation in 1984 (when I was still working in a coal mine).  As one of the early high school reformers, Sandy had the insight that many students needed the ‘hook’ of relevance to pull them through a difficult high school course sequence.  He pulled together a couple corporate partners and launched a network of small career-focused academies with interesting internship and application opportunities.

JD Hoye answered Sandy’s call and took the helm of NAF, a network of over 500 academies and one of the few nonprofits to have achieved scaled impact.  JD turned the organization’s attention to quality and cut ties with schools that no longer represented NAF’s principles.

Evaluations of NAF’s results speak most strongly to improved persistence among minority males.  Online learning communities and improved ability to manage projects are two of the current efforts aimed at improving instructional quality.  Like New Tech Foundation, NAF is likely to become a more platform-centric network.

From a fellow west coast commuter that like JD flies more than a pilot, I appreciate her commitment to taking NAF to the next level.  With JD at the helm, we’ll see another half a million careers launched from NAF academies.


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