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of the New Beginnings Schools Foundation

In the summer of 2004, the University of New Orleans’ College of Education and Human Development embarked on a journey that was described in statewide newspaper coverage as “the unprecedented gamble, “a major risk” and “good news”. The university became the first entity in the state of Louisiana to take control of a failing public school.

New Beginnings' commitment to quality public education is an outgrowth of the vision of the charter network’s founder, James Meza, Jr., Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “As an urban university, our mission calls for us to assume a greater responsibility for the quality of public education in the New Orleans area,” said Meza. “Through our charter school initiative we have established opportunities for our faculty and students to engage in professional development and research though school based inquiry. This systematic teaching and learning process empowers our college teaching community to clearly understand problems and identify best practices for school improvement."

Pierre Capdau Elementary became Louisiana’s first “takeover” charter school after voters in 2003 approved a state constitutional amendment to allow state takeover of repeatedly failing public schools.

Historical Timeline

  • August 2004:

    Pierre Capdau — UNO Charter School opens as Louisiana’s first Type 5 charter school, becoming a forerunner in the New Orleans’ burgeoning charter school movement.
  • August 2005:

    UNO opens its second charter school – Medard H. Nelson-UNO Charter School – three days before Hurricane Katrina strikes the Gulf Coast.
  • January/February 2006:

    Capdau and Nelson charter schools reopen. Nelson relocates to temporary quarters while its St. Bernard Avenue campus is rebuilt.
  • May 2006:

    Capital One Financial Corporation pledges $1 million grant to help establish the UNO Charter School Network.
  • August 2006:

    UNO launches Pierre Capdau Early College High School (now Thurgood Marshall), a nationally recognized high school reform initiative built around small, autonomous institutions that blend high school and college into a coherent education program.
  • August 2007:

    Medard Nelson-UNO Charter School returns to a completely renovated campus on St. Bernard Avenue.
  • September 2007:

    Gentilly Terrace Elementary reopens as a University Partnership Model. UNO continues to fulfill its mission of providing high quality public education to neighborhoods damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Gentilly Terrace is being operated through a partnership between the University of New Orleans and the Recovery School District.
  • December 2008:

    Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) grants UNO Type 5 Charter to operate Thurgood Marshall Early College High School.
  • November 2009:

    Capital One contributes $405,000 in education grants, funding a wide range of supplemental and after-school educational programs.
  • May 2010:

    First UNO Charter senior class graduates from Thurgood Marshall Early College HS.
  • June 2010:

    Gentilly Terrace begins operation as Type 5 charter school.
  • July 2010:

    BESE grants Pierre Capdau a three-year extension of charter agreement.In its five years as a charter school Pierre Capdau’s baseline school performance score (SPS) has demonstrated steady growth – increasing from 25.6 in 2004-05 to 66.4 in 2008-09.
  • July 2011:

    Reorganization of the University of New Orleans Charter School Network to the New Beginnings Schools Foundation. Restructuring emphasizes public accountability and transparency, and clarifies the governance of Network schools. New Beginnings Schools Foundation is responsible for the schools’ educational outcomes. UNO's College of Education and Human Development continues to work directly with schools in an educational support and professional development capacity.
  • July 2011:

    Lake Area High School is created as a result of the merger of Greater Gentilly High School and Thurgood Marshall Early College High School.
  • December 2012:

    New Beginnings Schools Foundation received Top Gains School designation the Louisiana Department of Education. Pierre Capdau, Medard Nelson, Gentilly Terrace and Lake Area High School improved their School Performance Score by or beyond a pre-determined growth target, from 2 to 10 points. Each school received $8,453 for educational purposes within the school.
New Beginnings Schools Foundation: Capdau, Nelson, Lake Area
UNO Bicentennial Education Center, Suite 120
2000 Lakeshore Drive
New Orleans, LA 70148

Phone: (504) 280-2309
Fax: (504) 280-2312
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