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Customer Spotlight

Atlanta Classical Academy

When Matthew Kirby first developed his vision for a K-12 charter school in the North Atlanta area, he knew there would be obstacles.

Aside from the petition process for receiving a charter, fundraising and gaining the necessary political approvals, a specific challenge that all charter schools face is that they are left to meet their own real estate needs. The schools themselves have to find a location and support their facilities from their individual operating income.

And in February of 2014, just a few months before Atlanta Classical Academy was set to begin its first school year, the situation had become nervewracking to say the least.

“We’d been working on the school for two and a half years,” Matthew explains. “We’d developed a business plan and received approvals from Atlanta Public Schools and the Georgia Department of Education. We’d hired a Principal, Vice-Principal, teachers, staff. We had enough students to fill the school plus three additional schools. But we had one major problem – we had absolutely nowhere to go.”

As Matthew and the school’s board frantically looked for solutions, they were close to making the difficult decision of postponing their opening by another year, which could have ultimately proved disastrous.

But thankfully, at the 11th hour, an opportunity presented itself as the former Heiskell School in Buckhead announced they were closing their doors. Atlanta Classical Academy was able to negotiate a lease for the property and eventually purchase it a year later.

And this was where Atlantic Capital stepped in to help.

“Ashley Carson and her team at Atlantic Capital had established a banking relationship with us,” Matthew describes. “They understood Atlanta real estate very well and were able to help underwrite the purchase opportunity, even though we didn’t have the complete financial history that would usually be required. They took a chance on us when other banks might have walked away.”

Since opening its doors, Atlanta Classical Academy has enjoyed an exciting level of success and growth, with its traditional approach to education and values-based mission clearly resonating with students and families across Atlanta.

The school was founded on a classical education philosophy – emphasizing happiness as a combination of our knowledge and the virtues we cultivate within ourselves. Students are encouraged to contemplate the question of what constitutes a well-lived life, with teachers and staff bringing a focus that goes beyond ordinary college and career preparation.

“We serve 25-30 zip codes from all over the city,” Matthew says. “Demand has been through the roof, and we’re currently outperforming the district and state in academic measures across the board. Also, 19% of this year’s graduating class will be first generation college attendees, which we’re very proud of.”

With a continuously full enrollment and a long waitlist, Matthew has gone on to start another school in Kennesaw named Northwest Classical Academy, creating a similar K-12 environment for children and families outside Atlanta city limits. Their first day of classes took place this year.

Nancy Lewis, Atlantic Capital Relationship Manager & Matthew Kirby, Atlanta Classical Academy Executive Director

“What Matthew is doing is special,” says Nancy Lewis, SVP, Relationship Manager at Atlantic Capital. “In education, you often hear about test scores and reading comprehension, but you rarely hear about human happiness or a life well-lived. I’m glad we saw the value there and helped play a part in their story.”

And from Matthew’s perspective, he says he’s grateful for Atlantic Capital’s continued support as a banking partner. “Atlantic Capital showed trust, faith and confidence in us during a time of great difficulty,” he explains. “The stability we have today simply would not have been possible without them.”

Atlantic Capital has helped a variety of small- and medium-sized nonprofit organizations like Atlanta Classical Academy achieve lasting growth – both locally and nationwide. For more information on how Atlantic Capital can fuel your prosperity, contact us today.

To learn more about the Atlanta Classical Academy, please visit their website at atlantaclassical.org.

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