Annual Report

56 Schools
1,925 Teachers
28,000+ Students
283 Board Members

Making History Happen—Together.

The 2020–21 school year was one that tested the people of Michigan in extraordinary ways. Educators, students and families learned to adapt to new learning protocols, pushing them to innovate and grow in ways they never expected. Along the way we, too, paved a new road forward—with remarkable results.


56 Schools

Learn more about the 56 CMU partner schools by clicking on a city. Each school has a link where you can view additional school-level information, including student demographics and board members.

Beverly Hills

(2018) NexTech High School of Metro Detroit
Final year of operation was 2017-18

Highland Park

(2021) ACE Academy
Final year of authorization was 2020-21


(2020) Lakeside Charter School
Final year of operation was 2019-20
(2022) Lakeside Academy
Final year of operation was 2019-20


(2019) The Midland Academy of Advanced and Creative Studies
Final year of operation was 2018-19


(2020) Global Preparatory Academy
Final year of operation was 2019-20
(2022) Global Preparatory Academy
Final year of operation was 2019-20


(2018) Jefferson International Academy
Final year of operation was 2017-18

Center Line Preparatory Academy Joins CMU Portfolio for 2020-21

Center Line Preparatory Academy, a charter public school that will expand to serve grades K-12 in Macomb County, utilizes an established educational model that has produced some of the highest-performing schools in the state. With an emphasis on college preparation and moral focus programming, students are challenged to reach their full potential.

“I am extremely proud of the work we were able to accomplish in our first year. The fact that we opened our doors in the midst of a pandemic and were still able to provide our scholars a quality learning experience is quite an accomplishment and leaves me fired up for the opportunities our scholars will have as we continue moving forward.”

– Alton Williams II, Board President at Center Line Preparatory Academy

Innovation & Vision Award

The Innovation and Vision Award contest is held annually to give CMU partner schools a way to showcase their innovative approaches and inspiring visions for the future. Voted on by fellow schools, this year’s winner was Renaissance Public School Academy in Mt. Pleasant. The winner and finalists received award money for their schools to use in advancing innovative practices. To learn more about their fresh approaches to learning, listen to the Charter Central Podcast episode that featured Renaissance Public School Academy as guests.

Renaissance Public School Academy staff and students accepting their Innovation and Vision award.

U.S. News and World Reports Best High Schools

Each year U.S. News and World Report releases their list of the best high schools throughout the nation. Congratulations to the two CMU partner high schools that ranked in the top 100 Michigan high schools – Charyl Stockwell Academy and West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science.

The first photo is of students standing in front of Charyl Stockwell Preparatory Academy High School. The second photo pictures two students from West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science walking outside smiling and laughing.

30 Under 30 Changemaker Awards

We are proud to have two honorees from CMU partner schools recognized by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools this year with a 30 Under 30 Changemakers Award! Congratulations to Mari Copeny, a student at Woodland Park Academy and Jess Stone, a teacher at River Heights Academy.

Mari Copeny and Jess Stone. Jess is holding a progress pride flag.


Student Demographics

We celebrate the unique background of each student that is served in our partner schools.

Spirit of the Future Scholarships

Because learning doesn’t end with a diploma, graduates of CMU partner high schools can receive financial support to attend CMU. Scholarships offered include the Dr. Leonard E. and Louise A. Plachta Public Charter School Scholarship and The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools Scholarship.

2020-21 Recipients

  • Nadiya Borys, A.G.B.U. Alex and Marie Manoogian School
  • Theresa Leffert, Kensington Woods Schools
  • Shelby Hollins, Jalen Rose Leadership Academy
  • Kelli White, Jalen Rose Leadership Academy
  • Sarah Hudson, Summit Academy North

Central Michigan University campus seal

Enrollment by Grade

From kindergarten to high school, our partner schools serve more than 28,000 students.

Grade Enrollment
K 2,857
1 2,530
2 2,413
3 2,490
4 2,433
5 2,257
6 2,299
7 2,175
8 2,073
9 1,867
10 1,754
11 1,590
12 1,633

School Leadership

Professional Development

At CMU, we’re proud to provide our partner schools with professional development and resources in areas that are crucial to fulfilling their school’s mission and supporting quality educational growth. We adapted these opportunities to a virtual environment to ensure we continued to provide timely resources to support the unique needs schools faced this year.

Opportunities included:

  • Webinars providing the latest guidance related to the pandemic, including board governance, navigation of new state requirements, and assessment of student performance and growth. 
  • Academic professional learning opportunities focused on remote testing and data-driven instruction.
  • Roundtables for board presidents to have an open dialog regarding topics important to their work.
  • Information-packed orientations for new board members to ensure they can be successful in their new roles.
  • Roundtables for board treasurers to discuss best practices.

School Board Members

There are 283 board members transforming public education through their service at CMU partner schools.

Charter School Educator Award

CMU is committed to furthering the education of teachers and school leaders in CMU partner schools. That’s why we offer a 50 percent tuition award to pursue graduate degrees in education at CMU. To date, 69 award recipients have received graduate degrees.

Teacher at Trillium Academy sitting in circle with students during an outdoor lesson.
To be part of Cole Academy’s success the last 18 years has been a privilege and honor. Cole Academy’s past and present determination to provide our students and families with an educational environment that promotes learning, independence, and character growth is something I am very proud to be a part of. The support and guidance from CMU, and Cole's relentless drive to be better each day has created a long-lasting, far-reaching organization deeply rooted in our schools’ communities.
– Stacey Johnson, School Leader at Cole Academy and Cole Academy East
The Ivywood credo is: We inspire wonder. As a board member, it has been amazing to watch an education philosophy with roots that are over 2,000 years old come alive and help inspire wonder in today's youngest generation. Ivywood's classical curriculum is time-tested, research-based and is proven to develop children into thoughtful, caring, educated, freethinking young adults.
– Tyler Horning, Board President at Ivywood Classical Academy

Our Role

Authorizing Practices

Our team of experts is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on charter public schools, and we’re eager to share our insights on all aspects of authorizing. Our relentless efforts to be a catalyst for change across the educational landscape goes beyond authorizing quality schools. By engaging policymakers and thought leaders, we strive to be a force for change and have a lasting impact on all students.

We provide:

  • The highest standards of performance and accountability.
  • Tailored support in academics, finance and operations.
  • Professional development for board members and school leaders.
  • Customized school launch assistance.
  • Best practices and resources from a team of experts.


We completed a rigorous accreditation process in 2021, ultimately continuing our accreditation through Cognia (formerly AdvancED). The accreditation process provides a complete review of all aspects of authorizing by an external review team. The team rated our organization’s processes, programs and resources against 28 standards and 13 mandatory assurances. And the results were pretty extraordinary.

“…The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University met high expectations, helped navigate the waters of charter schools for institutions, and provided ‘quality education’ to many students. The Center is commended for the visionary leadership, consistent focus on students, unwavering commitment and support of the mission and direction of the organization, and transparency in identifying its successes and challenges. The CMU Center for Charter School Authorizers is an exemplar for other authorizers, a committed partner with the university and the partner schools, and hope for many students and their families for quality education and opportunities for a successful life.”

– 2021 Cognia External Review Team Accreditation Report

387.68 Score Out of 400
28 of 28 Standards Receiving Highest Rating
13 of 13 Assurances Met
230 Documents Submitted for Accreditation Review

Charter Central Podcast

This year, we completed the second season of the Charter Central Podcast. The podcast provides a unique platform to communicate monthly insights into topics important to charter public schools from experts in their fields. Each month a special guest joins us to discuss their work and perspectives on education.

Charter Central Podcast cover image. Student raising their hand in class.

Pandemic Response

CMU Partner Schools Respond to Pandemic

When the world changed last year, it’s tough to argue that anyone could have been ready. But CMU partner schools rose to the challenge. From Zoom screens to HVAC, hand sanitizer, face masks and beyond, their work was nothing short of remarkable.

Students at Distinctive College Prep sitting at their desks in their classroom, wearing masks, and working on their laptop computers.
Distinctive College Prep Provided for the needs of their students through technology and a family-centered approach to services.
Staff from Detroit Innovation Academy stand in front of entrance smiling for a group photo.
Detroit Innovation Academy Offered virtual learning in response to the needs of their families.
Two students from International Academy of Flint sitting in car with masks, picking up supplies at the school.
International Academy of Flint Showed commitment to their families by going the extra mile to ensure students received support they needed.
Students and teacher from Ivywood Classical Academy lined up in a hallway. Everyone is holding their thumbs up and wearing masks.
Ivywood Classical Academy Offered in-person learning the entire school year in response to the needs of their families.
Teacher from Renaissance Public School Academy reading to students during a virtual lesson.
Renaissance Public School Academy Transitioned their innovative education model of project-based learning to their new learning environment.
The Trillium Academy team went above and beyond this past year to support our students’ learning through the implementation of technology across all learning platforms allowing teachers the ability to provide full time learning environments to all students both virtually and face to face. The team also increased social and emotional support to students and families throughout the entire pandemic and into the current school year. The Board is extremely proud of the Trillium team and all of their hard work to put kids first.
– Heather Gardner, Board President at Trillium Academy

Facing the Pandemic Head-On

When Michigan schools closed for the year in early 2020, CMU and its partners in the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers stepped up to provide support to not only charter public schools, but to all K-12 districts statewide. We supported the state by helping inform and evaluate plans for remote learning and followed up to ensure all students could be served in the best ways possible. We also transitioned our authorizing practices to ensure we could support our partner schools’ unique needs and fulfill our oversight role.

167 Pandemic Plans Reviewed
625 Board Meetings Attended
41 Pandemic-Related School Communications
14 Pandemic-Related Professional Development
At Detroit Leadership Academy, we work every day to rethink what is possible — we focus not just on what our students can achieve but how we intentionally remove barriers to that achievement. During the 2020-2021 school year this looked different than ever before, and with educational and health equity at the forefront, we were determined to keep the schoolhouse doors open every day, despite most students learning from a distance, in order to stay aligned with our community centered vision of ensuring that every child and their family has differentiated wrap around support and access to food, technology, social-emotional resources, and a culturally relevant academic experience.
– Kerri Smith, Chief Executive Officer at CEN – Educational Partner of Detroit Leadership Academy

Examining Student Achievement and Growth

The exploration of student assessment results during the pandemic is a critical topic to understand for all schools. Our Research, Evaluation and Data team focused their work on an analytical review of student assessment results spanning the two school years of the pandemic to inform the conversation around the impact the pandemic had on students. This groundbreaking research helped inform schools of their unique results so their future efforts could be strengthened. The work was also highlighted at the state and national levels for its innovative and comprehensive look at the most important educational questions of our time and what can be done to support students in the future.

View Results

We are proud to be a part of Central Michigan University, one of the 100 largest public universities in the nation

When the Michigan Legislature responded to Governor John Engler’s call for the establishment of charter public schools in Michigan in 1994, CMU was prepared to lead. Believing charter schools could serve as a catalyst for educational improvements benefiting all Michigan children, CMU stepped forward to authorize charter public schools that would provide families with quality educational opportunities.