Respectable Education (Las Vegas)

  • Local Projects
  • 2001

Andre Agassi grew up in Las Vegas, spending the first 15 years of his life there before heading to a tennis academy in Florida to begin one of the most storied careers in professional tennis. But his heart never left home. At age 24, in the meaty middle of his playing career, Agassi formed a foundation with the aim of helping underprivileged kids in his hometown. After briefly running an after-school program, it founded a Boys & Girls club, and the following year built a shelter and educational center for abused children. “But then a light bulb went off,” Agassi explains. “We realized we were sticking band-aids on real issues.”

Agassi decided that to help kids lastingly, they needed education. So he built his own charter school and focused his foundation on its success. He planted his flag in West Las Vegas, the city’s most depressed neighborhood, about nine miles from the glitzy Strip. The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy opened in 2001 and now spans grades K-12, with more than 1,100 students. Their campus was built with $40 million of private money raised by Agassi. Tuition at the charter school is free, and students are chosen by lottery (though Agassi convinced regulators to allow him to give admissions preference to children who live within a two-mile radius of the school). School days are two hours longer than at other Las Vegas public schools, and the school year is ten days longer. There is no tenure for teachers. The school is centered on Agassi’s detailed “code of respect.”

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