“Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.”

– Horace

NAF History in the Buffalo Public Schools
NAF (at that time NAF was known as the National Academy Foundation.) was created by philanthropist Sanford L. Weill. His proposal, for a program designed specifically to address the need for skilled workforce talent, was accepted by the New York City Board of Education which opened the first Academy of Finance at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn in 1982 with 35 AOF students.

In 1986, after four years of program success and validation, NAF opened additional academies Minneapolis, Miami and Buffalo.

Included in NAF’s initial expansion was the Academy of Finance at Lafayette High School on Buffalo’s West Side, with Robert G. Lewandowski as Academy Director. The AOF provided:

  • a four-year college and career ready experience for urban youths
  • an industry-vetted business, finance and economics curriculum
  • a validated national model for school reform
  • a business advisory board that brought the “real business world” into classrooms
  • college courses taught on-site at SUC Buffalo and Canisius College

The four-year curriculum experience included:

  • Accounting
  • Advanced Accounting
  • IBM PC Word Processing
  • Business Computer Applications
  • Advanced Software Applications
  • Business Law
  • Banking & Credit
  • The World of Finance
  • Financial Planning
  • International Business
  • ECO 201: Intro to Microeconomics on campus at SUC Buffalo

Growth of NAF Academies
The AOF at Lafayette High School opened in 1986 with a freshman cohort of 28 students. By 1990 more than 300 eighth graders were applying annually and the academy expanded to 90 freshmen per cohort.

Fred Press served as Academy Director from 1989 – 1999 and added the NAF Academy of Hospitality and Tourism (AOHT) in 1999. Fred is a strong advocate of Academies and is instrumental in encouraging other local suburban districts to embrace the NAF model. The expansion into the WNY school districts started in suburbs when under the direction of Jerry Hathaway, West Seneca School District started an Academy of Finance theme in 1997 and followed with an Academy of Information Technology in 2004. Lancaster, Orchard Park and North Tonawanda followed suit by starting Academies of Finance in 2005. The idea of career academies continued to flourish in WNY as North Tonawanda (2005), Lakeshore (2009), Lewiston-Porter (2010), and Clarence (2012) were added to the list of school districts who had Academy of Finance programs within their high schools. In 2012, Barker Central School district became the first school district in Niagara County to include a NAF program within their school district.

Another strong advocate of NAF Academies, Jeff Rabey, Superintendent of Schools of Depew School District encouraged faculty at Depew Central School District to develop and implement an Academy of Finance in 2014. Under Mr. Rabey’s leadership, this became the third school district in which he had started the Academy program.

Hamburg School District in 2014 recognized the benefits of the national model and adopted this model as a fit to their Academy program.

In 2015, the Health Charter Sciences School became the first charter school in Buffalo to implement the Academy program with a wall-to-wall model.

Today, the WNY Regional NAF Advisory Board is represented by 13 area school districts coming together as a collaborative effort to build awareness and increase opportunities for students, with the most recent addition of Wilson School District in 2016.

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