Detroit Prep Academy Completes $6.9M Building Renovation

Detroit Prep Academy today opened its new campus at a formerly vacant school building at 8411 Sylvester St. in Pingree Park in Detroit that was the beneficiary of a $6.9-million renovation.
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Detroit Prep ribbon cutting
State Rep. Joe Tate (left) and Jen McMillan, Detroit Prep co-founder and head of school, cut the ribbon to open the newly renovated school in Pingree Park. // Photo courtesy of Detroit Prep Academy

Detroit Prep Academy today opened its new campus at a formerly vacant school building at 8411 Sylvester St. in Pingree Park in Detroit that was the beneficiary of a $6.9-million renovation.

The 43,500-square-foot, three-story building features 21 classrooms, a kitchen, a cafeteria, and a gathering/performance space. The property also will have room to build a playground and outdoor learning space to support Detroit Prep’s project-based learning curriculum. Twenty-eight construction jobs for the project and 35 full-time positions in the school were created.

Detroit Prep moves into the renovated school after spending its first two years operating out of the basement of a nearby church, outperforming other schools in the area

Located in the former home of Anna M. Joyce Elementary School, Detroit Prep is the first diverse-by-design public charter school in Detroit, which intentionally seeks out children and staff of diverse backgrounds for the benefit of all. The school offers an equitable and diverse education to give all students a foundation of academic excellence and character development.

Using research that shows all students do better when a school is diverse, Detroit Prep works to maintain a socioeconomic and racial balance in the school’s kindergarten through second grade population. The school plans to expand to support kindergarten through eighth grade by 2025, adding a grade level each year.

“Restoring such a beautiful building in our neighborhood has truly been a joy,” says Kyle Smitley, founder of Detroit Achievement Academy. “Detroit Prep is a special place, and Pingree Park is our perfect forever home. In tackling such a huge project as a tiny school, we could not have asked for better, more supportive partners than Capital Impact, IFF, and JPMorgan Chase.”

The transaction was financed through a partnership of IFF, Capital Impact Partners and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Capital Impact Partners provided Detroit Prep with $1.725 million as part of a $6.9 million New Market Tax Credit transaction to renovate the building. IFF, a Midwest-based lender and real estate consultant, provided $2.75 million along with $6 million of New Market Tax Credit allocation, while JPMorgan Chase served as the tax credit investor.

Detroit Prep received additional funding from a variety of donors, including: Madonna, who presented a $100,000 matching challenge grant; Born and Raised Detroit Foundation, which gave $10,000 when Detroit Prep reached its first 500 donors; and Grey Ghost Detroit, who teamed with the city’s top chefs to raise $75,000 at Detroit Prep’s 1st Annual Chef’s Schoolyard in April 2018, and over $100,000 at the 2nd Annual Chef’s Schoolyard in May 2019.

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