To inspire and empower students qualifying for need-based scholarships

to become future community leaders through a rigorous middle

school program coupled with ongoing graduate support.





To be the premier Lakeland urban middle school which prepares

hundreds of economically disadvantaged students to achieve

academic success and become community leaders.


In our Lakeland area communities, many remarkable young people dream of a real opportunity for success and fulfillment. These children are talented, creative, and have the will to transform their lives – lives that will in turn transform our communities. However, many of these kids live in some of the more challenged areas around Lakeland. Many of their families live day to day struggling to make ends meet. These tenacious youngsters live among us – just up the road. In our own backyard, Academy Prep provides one of the most unique education programs in Florida.


We are more than a middle school.


Academy Prep provides an exemplary, college preparatory middle school education coupled with a wide range of life changing services, while closely supporting our graduates all the way through high school, college, and into their careers. This combination of strategies helps guide Academy Prep students to a life fulfilled.


Academy Prep is transforming our community one child at a time.



Academy Prep Center of Lakeland is a tuition-free, independent center for education for middle-school aged children who qualify for need-based scholarships. In the atmosphere of an extended family, Academy Prep encourages and teaches students to excel in academics, ethical and moral understanding and judgment, and life skills. Opening its doors in 2019, it is modeled after its predecessors, Nativity Mission Center, which opened in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, in 1971, as well as the Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg, in operation in south St. Petersburg since 1997, and Academy Prep Center of Tampa, in operation in Ybor City since 2003.

The school is dedicated to educating economically-disadvantaged students by providing an academically challenging, enriching and structured environment followed by eight years of support and guidance through high school and college.

Academy Prep admits students who demonstrate the desire to handle a rigorous and demanding academic program designed to prepare them for success in secondary school and college. Through its year-round program, the school promotes the intellectual, athletic, and social development of its students. Academy Prep students and graduates are expected to act as mature and responsible individuals who contribute to their communities and demonstrate charity and concern in all their actions.



The Academy Prep Centers for Education are based upon the Nativity Miguel network of schools, a proven academic model for economically disadvantaged children utilized across the country for over 50 years. Currently there are three Academy Prep centers – separate not-for-profit private sister schools located in Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. Academy Prep leaders started the St. Petersburg Center in 1997. Encouraged by the first Center’s success, the Academy Prep Center of Tampa opened in 2003. Academy Prep Center of Lakeland is housed in the former John Cox Elementary School built in 1928. The Academy Prep Center of Lakeland renovated this building, and reopened its doors in 2019 to continue serving the community’s youth.

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