Friendship Schools

19-Year Tradition of Results

Since its inception in 1997, Friendship Public Charter School has enabled thousands of students in underserved communities to become achievers.
The first 15 years
1996 Paving the way for public charter schools. The DC School Reform Act passes, allowing for the creation of public charter schools in DC. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are publicly funded, tuition-free schools open to all DC resident children, but with additional freedoms and responsibilities. The newly created DC Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB) begins accepting charter applications for the city’s first public charter schools to open in 1998.
1997 Founded from a need. Donald Hense – then Executive Director of Friendship House Association, a century-old community fixture for local families living in poverty – recognizes the need for quality education to end the cycle of poverty in DC. He founds Friendship Public Charter School and begins planning for the first campus.
1998 – Opening the nation’s first multicampus charter school. The Chamberlain and Woodridge elementary campuses open with 1200 students.
1999 – Extending to the middle grades. Blow Pierce, a junior high campus, opens with 724 students.  
2000 – Reaching high school. The Collegiate Academy campus opens with 423 students and the vision of sending all to college.
2003 – First graduating class. On average, over 90% of the senior class graduates every year since. In 2012, Friendship achieves the second highest graduation rate (91%) of all open enrollment public and public charter schools. Of that year’s 604 graduates from Wards 7 and 8, 40% come from Collegiate Academy.
2003 – Accreditation without strings. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools awards Friendship full accreditation with no qualifications and no waiting period, a major achievement for a school only five years old.
2004 – Launching DC’s first Early College program. The Gates Foundation awards Collegiate Academy a grant to become the first DC school to dual-enroll students in college courses for credit at no cost to the students. By 2012, 175 Friendship students graduate with at least one semester of Early College credits.
2005 – First turnaround offer extended. DCPCSB grants Friendship approval to take over a failing public charter school, which reopens as the Southeast elementary campus.
2008 – Turning around Baltimore. Friendship accepts the charge of partnering with Baltimore City Public Schools to turn around two failing schools, which reopen as Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology (FAET) and Friendship Academy of Science and Technology (FAST). By 2010, Friendship partners to turn around two other Baltimore schools, reopened as Friendship Academy at Cherry Hill and Friendship Prep at Calverton.
2008 – Inspiring Advanced Placement access. The College Board awards Collegiate Academy one of three “AP Inspiration Awards” for expanding access to Advancement Placement classes among its students. By 2010, Friendship students’ passing rates on AP exams quadrupled.
2009 – Bringing Friendship to more families. The Tech Prep campus, Friendship’s sixth, opens, extending Friendship’s secondary school success to Ward 8 with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) school.
2009 – DC Public Schools turns to Friendship. Friendship accepts DC Public Schools’ invitation to partner in turning around a Ward 8 high school, which reopens as The Academies at Anacostia.
2010-2011 – Friendship recognized for top teachers. Two years in a row, Friendship teachers take home the Office of the State Superintendent for Education's annual DC Teacher of the Year award. Stephanie Day of Chamberlain and Jon Rolle of Southeast Academy win.
2011 – Highest-ranking DC charter high school. Collegiate Academy earns the best rating for a charter high school in the Washington Post's District Challenge Index.
2012 – Champions of DC's first state football competition. Despite having no football field, the Collegiate Academy Knights defeat Dunbar 48-12 to win the first-ever DC football championship allowing charter schools to compete with DCPS.