University Academy was founded by Tom Bloch, Lynne Brown, and Barnett and Shirley Helzberg. The founders believe deeply that students living in the Kansas City Missouri School District deserve the opportunity to have an excellent college preparatory education. The founders’ initial vision was to establish a school that emphasizes college preparation, career development, community service and leadership. The idea for the school was further developed and refined and eventually a charter school application was written. The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) agreed to sponsor the school’s initial 5 year charter. Although University Academy was among the first schools in Missouri to receive a charter under Missouri’s charter school law (passed in 1998), an entire year was spent planning before the school actually opened.
The school originally opened its doors in 2000, operating in a facility leased from UMKC located at 5605 Troost Avenue. In addition to providing University Academy the initial space for the school to operate and agreeing to sponsor the charter, UMKC has supported University Academy in many ways including providing an additional layer of oversight and guidance for both the board and administration. UMKC’s Charter School Center monitors University Academy’s performance and the school annually submits a written school improvement plan to UMKC. In 2005, UMKC sponsored University Academy’s second charter — this time for ten years.
As a result of the support and generosity of University Academy’s board of directors and the Kansas City community, construction on a new 172,000 square foot state-of-the art facility began in 2004. When the new facility opened in August 2005, enrollment expanded from 300 students in grades 6-12 to roughly 1,000 students in Kindergarten through grade 12. The school's campus provides a wonderful home for University Academy to pursue its mission of preparing students to succeed in college and become leaders in society.
Missouri State Law (Section 160.522) requires the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to publish an annual "report card" about each school district, each school building and each charter school. The following report includes all of the data required by state law, plus information required by federal law (No Child Left Behind). All of the information provided in this report is compiled from data reported to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by University Academy. The information is published by DESE on December 1 of each year.
Important University Academy Milestones
1999 – University Academy incorporated as a 501(c)3
1999 – UMKC sponsors University Academy’s initial 5 year charter
2000 – University Academy opens doors to 218 students in grades 7-9
2001 – Second school year begins with grades 6-10
2002 – University Academy accredited by NCA / AdvancED
2004 – Construction begins on new campus
2004 – University Academy graduates its first senior class
2005 – University Academy moves into a new 172,000 square foot facility and adds grades K-5
2005 – UMKC sponsors a new 10 year charter for University Academy
2007 – University Academy accredited by NCA / AdvancED
2008 – University Academy engages Bernard Consulting for strategic planning. Board reaffirms mission statement and crafts a new vision statement
2009 – University Academy board adopts current vision statement
2010 – Friends of University Academy (now University Academy Foundation) , a separate 501(c)3, is established to support special educational opportunities for University Academy students and alumni, as well as operate an Alumni Support Program
2011 – Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) recognizes University Academy for meeting 14/14 of its performance standards
2012 – University Academy Upper School recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best public high schools
2013 - University Academy Upper School recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best public high schools
2014 – University Academy Board of Directors adopts a five year Strategic Plan
2014 – University Academy Class of 2014 earns a record $2.8 million in scholarships
2014 - University Academy Upper School recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best public high schools
2015 - University Academy Upper School recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best public high schools
2015 - Ranked 199th best high school in the country in the "Beating the Odds" category by Newsweek Magazine
2016 - National Title 1 Distinguished School
2016 - First Ivy League admittance (Penn)
2016 - Missouri Gold Star School
2017 - National Blue Ribbon School
2019 - Three students admitted to Ivy League schools (Harvard, Princeton, Cornell)
2019 - First Ivy League Graduate (Columbia, Master's degree)