Founded in 2000, University Prep Academy (UPA) opened its doors with only 112 sixth grade students. The school was initially housed in the basement of “The Promise Land,” a small church on Detroit’s east side. With the promise of a 90% graduation rate and a guarantee that 90% of students would go on to post-secondary education, UPA became the first “90/90 school” in Detroit. Since its inception, the UPA district has grown to include a high school (2003) and two elementary schools, Ellen Thompson Elementary (2005) and Mark Murray Elementary (2008). UPA High School graduated its first senior class in 2007 with more than 93% of its graduates enrolling in post-secondary educational programs. After a decade of serving Detroit children, UPA continues to evolve. Our core philosophy, however, remains the same – to ensure our students not only graduate and go on to pursue higher education, but that they leave our schools prepared for the world around them. Our continued commitment to individualized learning coupled with a self-imposed mandate to consistently attract and retain dedicated teachers, guarantees our students the chance to find and pursue their passions and to succeed both in school and in the world beyond.
High School graduation and post-secondary education are the surest pathways to a stable and fulfilling life. At University Prep Science & Math, we believe that it is the responsibility of a great school district to partner with families, to provide students with everything they need to graduate and succeed in post-secondary education. We strongly believe that all students can succeed, given personalized education and a relentless commitment to their success. We have studied successful schools around the country and around the world, and have drawn upon their lessons to shape the UPA model, a clear alternative to the mass production, factory-based model of most urban schools.
UPA’s campuses were built by the Thompson Foundation whose mission is to help low-income people rise out of poverty and become self-sufficient. Many of the foundation’s initiatives are focused on creating educational opportunities for Detroit youth. This includes funding scholarships to colleges and universities such as Schoolcraft, Michigan Tech University and Michigan State University. Robert and Ellen Thompson formed the Thompson Foundation in 1999 with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Thompson-McCully Company, Michigan’s largest asphalt paving company. Visit thompsonfdn.org
Known as one of Detroit’s longest-standing tuition-free public charter school systems, University Prep Schools (U Prep Schools) encompasses two districts and seven campuses serving K-12 students from all corners of the city. Through a combination of individualized and Expeditionary Learning models, U Prep Schools’ students are afforded the unique opportunity to learn in an environment that extends education beyond the confines of the traditional classroom.
U PREP SCHOOLS’ PURPOSE
We prepare students for success in life.