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Meridian Academy Inc

 54 Brookside Avenue
 Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
[P] (617) 277-1118
[F] (617) 608-0944
www.meridianacademy.org
[email protected]
Joshua Abrams
Facebook
INCORPORATED: 2004
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 43-2024960

LAST UPDATED: 01/15/2017
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No

Summary

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Mission StatementMORE »

Meridian Academy mentors students in a small, vibrant community to become creative, questioning, analytical learners and thoughtful, involved citizens. Our curriculum, which is project-based and interdisciplinary, incorporates the best practices from both progressive and traditional schooling, encouraging students to embrace the joys and challenges of lifelong discovery. Meridian is an urban school serving an economically and racially diverse student body.

Mission Statement

Meridian Academy mentors students in a small, vibrant community to become creative, questioning, analytical learners and thoughtful, involved citizens. Our curriculum, which is project-based and interdisciplinary, incorporates the best practices from both progressive and traditional schooling, encouraging students to embrace the joys and challenges of lifelong discovery. Meridian is an urban school serving an economically and racially diverse student body.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year July 01, 2016 to June 30, 2017
Projected Income $2,020,000.00
Projected Expense $2,000,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Curriculum Development
  • Meridian Academy
  • Secondary School

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Overview

Mission Statement

Meridian Academy mentors students in a small, vibrant community to become creative, questioning, analytical learners and thoughtful, involved citizens. Our curriculum, which is project-based and interdisciplinary, incorporates the best practices from both progressive and traditional schooling, encouraging students to embrace the joys and challenges of lifelong discovery. Meridian is an urban school serving an economically and racially diverse student body.

Background Statement

Meridian was founded in 2004 by a group of educators and parents committed to creating a school for middle and high school age students that honored their intelligence, curiosity, need to take on leadership roles in their communities, and enthusiasm for learning by being a participating member of all disciplines (artist, historian, mathematician, scientist, writer, etc.). Meridian's founders were involved in establishing two schools (The Neighborhood School, an independent elementary school in Jamaica Plain and the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science, a state-wide, public, magnet school hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute) that serve economically diverse families and provide students with the opportunity to ask questions and carry out original research in all courses. 
 
Meridian's founder and Head of School, Joshua Abrams, has taught in both public and independent schools, in a charter school and a prison, in urban and suburban schools for over thirty years. A winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching from President William Clinton, he has combined the best features of the community and academic life from his former schools to create a school where students learn to take initiative and take ownership for their own learning, for their own and their schoolmates' well-being, and for the physical plant of the school. 

Impact Statement

Our school, located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, is for students who want to become experienced problem-solvers with leadership skills; who want to propose and carry out original research and creative projects; and who want to understand the connections between the different ideas that they study and the world in which they live.
 
Meridian serves students in grades 6-12 who are curious about all subjects and want to remain so. Our first graduating classes (since 2011) have been received with great enthusiasm by colleges because of the depth and breadth of their studies and their independent research across the disciplines. Nearly all of our graduates have received a large merit award from at least one of the colleges to which they applied.
 
Meridian is a liberal arts school where studio arts, theater, and music are given equal prominence with other disciplines. We have incorporated music appreciation, performance, studio art, and drama as both free-standing and interwoven components of our curriculum.
 
Field research (e.g., in science and history) is a regular part of students' learning. For example, eighth graders study the Charles River through MIT/NOAA's Sea Perch marine engineering program.  

Needs Statement

Meridian is committed to serving a diverse community. A focus on economic diversity is central to our development efforts. Half of our families receive financial aid (and approximately a quarter of the school receive nearly full scholarships). We are seeking individuals and organizations dedicated to diverse schools in this age in which much of the progress integrating schools during the 60s and 70s has been undone. For the 2017-2018 school year, Meridian will need $690,000 to support our financial aid awards. 
 
As a project-based school, we have particular needs providing students with lab space, dedicated individual work areas and materials, and traveling to off-campus sites for field learning. We also have a very low 5.5 to 1 student to teacher ratio to support the needed mentoring. These are all active areas of funding need. This work adds $200,000 to our teaching budget.
 
Every student studies art every year at Meridian. Expanding our facilities and our staff to include more theater and music will cost $40,000. 
 
Meridian is very effective at partnering with local science and cultural institutions to provide state-of-the-art facilities for free. Nonetheless, our classroom science facilities require additional laboratory equipment in biology, chemistry, and physics that will cost $30,000. 

CEO Statement

Meridian Academy is an extraordinary community that accomplishes what it does because of the people who comprise it. Each new teacher and student affects our work and our direction as an institution. As an intentionally small school, we have the flexibility to mentor students and to help them reach impressive heights as thoughtful learners and young-adults-in-the-making. 
 
Meridian students appreciate deeply the need for persistence and the intrinsic value of learning that they can apply to real world and theoretical studies. Meridian does not award traditional grades. Students work until their writing, research, and creative efforts have met the high standards that they and their teachers have established. Students rethink and refine their efforts until their revisions are clear, thoughtful, organized, convincing, and engaging. All work is shared at exhibition evenings where the public can comment on a student's work and an annual portfolio review. Meridian students head off to college aware of the complexity of real academic and professional work, of the open-endedness of the disciplines, of the need to expect and work with imprecision and uncertainty, and of the satisfaction that comes from doing long, hard work of meaning to oneself and to others.

Board Chair Statement

Meridian Academy is a frugal organization dedicated to showing that a great urban education is possible at a cost similar to what is spent in public high schools while providing a student-teacher ratio (5 to 1) that allows for extensive one-on-one mentoring of original student investigations. Meridian began with gifts from supporters totaling $56,000. That is not a lot of money with which to start a school! What makes a school great, however, is bright, creative, dedicated teachers empowered to make decisions that will serve their students and their own professional development well and students who choose to come to the school because of the active learning that it offers. Meridian has a very talented and experienced staff and draws intellectually curious students from neighborhoods and towns from throughout the area. Meridian has grown from our first year with 10 students and two full-time teachers because a passion for ideas and applied learning is infectious. We are now close to our goal of 88 students and have reached our full faculty size of 16 teachers. While our plan is to remain small, our impact is extended through our work with teachers at other schools disseminating our curricula. Our greatest challenges involve outreach as part of our admissions and development work. Being small does have a drawback when it comes to being discovered, and Meridian has worked with consultants to enhance our general visibility. We have also increased our efforts visiting potential feeder schools and committed more resources to continue this work in the coming years.

Meridian is a project-based, interdisciplinary school with promotion based on a student presenting a portfolio of long-term written and other efforts that meet their classes’ high standards. We have now completed the development of a full seven-year curriculum in the Humanities, Math/Science, and World Languages (Spanish is our graduation requirement, but, due to student initiative, we also offer French). We are currently expanding our arts programs offering additional opportunities for small group and individual instruction in music and studio art and creating new interdisciplinary arts courses that combine music composition, three-dimensional art, creative writing, and theatre. 


Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
GREATER BOSTON REGION, MA
Meridian serves students and families in the Greater Boston area with an emphasis on Boston residents.

Organization Categories

  1. Education - Elementary & Secondary Schools
  2. -
  3. -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

No

Programs

Curriculum Development

Meridian draws upon a wide range of sources to develop curriculum that will challenge and inspire our students. Many of the classes and units within them are developed by our faculty.
Budget  $75,000.00
Category  Education Curriculum Development
Population Served Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Program Short-Term Success  --
Program Long-Term Success  --
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  --

Meridian Academy

Our school serves students from grades 6 through 12 with a project-based, interdisciplinary curriculum and a structure that cultivates student leadership. Student leadership is built through democratic decision-making, multiple opportunities for initiating and implementing activities, and responsibility for many of the workings of the school (e.g., advising on purchases, contributing to the admissions process, cleaning rooms, interviewing teacher candidates, etc.). We are committed to building and sustaining an economically and racially diverse community. As a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools (www.essentialschools.org), we also work with other progressive educational institutions to develop and disseminate innovative curriculum and methods. These collaborations are both local and national in their reach.
Budget  $1,000,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Elementary & Secondary Education
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Other Economic Level
Program Short-Term Success  TBD
Program Long-Term Success 
Meridian Academy enters its 8th year with a growing enrollment and faculty. Regular use of the cultural and educational resources of the city are a hallmark of all classes. We have successfully established partnerships with a number of universities and companies to support student research in all disciplines. 
All of our students demonstrate the ability to carry out original long-term investigations in all classes including a year-long research project on a project of their choosing completed during their junior year.
Meridian is a college preparatory school. All of our graduating seniors have been accepted into competitive four-year colleges. Financial aid from colleges is important to our families. Thus far, every one of our graduates has received a large merit award from at least one of the schools to which they have applied. Meridian students have been offered admission to 76% of the schools to which they have applied and 44% have been accepted to every school to which they apply. 
Program Success Monitored By  TBD
Examples of Program Success  TBD

Secondary School

Meridian serves students in grades 6 through 12 with a project-based, interdisciplinary curriculum.
Budget  $475,000.00
Category  Education Elementary & Secondary Education
Population Served Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Program Short-Term Success  --
Program Long-Term Success  --
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Meridian Academy is a frugal organization dedicated to showing that a great urban education is possible at a cost similar to what is spent in public high schools while providing a student-teacher ratio (6 to 1) that allows for extensive one-on-one mentoring of original student investigations. Meridian began with gifts from supporters totaling $56,000. That is not a lot of money with which to start a school! What makes a school great, however, is bright, creative, dedicated teachers empowered to make decisions that will serve their students and their own professional development well and students who choose to come to the school because of the active learning that it offers. Meridian has a very talented and experienced staff and draws intellectually curious students from neighborhoods and towns from throughout the area. Meridian has grown from our first year with 10 students and two full-time teachers because a passion for ideas and applied learning is infectious. We are now halfway toward our goal of 90 students and 15 teachers. While our plan is to remain small, our impact is extended through our work with teachers at other schools disseminating our curricula. Our greatest challenges involve outreach as part of our admissions and development work. Being small does have a drawback when it comes to being discovered and Meridian has worked with consultants to enhance our general visibility. We have also increased our efforts visiting potential feeder schools in the past year with a greater commitment of resources to continue this work in the coming year.

Meridian is a project-based, interdisciplinary school with promotion based on a student presenting a portfolio of long-term written and other efforts that meet their classes’ high standards. We have now completed the development of a full seven-year curriculum in the Humanities, Math/Science, and Spanish. Our current work is focused on expanding our language curriculum (because of student input, both French and Latin electives are being added for the 2012-13 school year) and opportunities to study and perform music in our Humanities and arts classes. 

 

Management


CEO/Executive Director Mr. Joshua Abrams
CEO Term Start June 2004
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience B.S. in Biology, Yale University; M.A. in Mathematics Education, Columbia University. Josh has been a teacher, curriculum developer, and teacher leader for thirty years. He has taught mathematics and science research in a variety of schools including positions as Master Teacher of Mathematics at the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science, a state-wide, public, magnet school and Mathematics Department Head at The Rivers School, a suburban, independent, day school. In 1998, he was a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics from President William Jefferson Clinton. Josh founded Meridian because he wanted to provide an option for secondary students that valued their ideas, understood their need to be useful members of their communities, and welcomed them as junior researchers within and between the disciplines.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
Association of Independent Schools of New England 2008
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations

Sample Collaborations:
  • Humanities classes worked with staff at Zumix to produce radio commentaries about contemporary aspects of Colonialism.
  • Meridian works with colleagues at a number of local universities (MIT, UNH, Northeastern, and others) to enhance our science program.
  • Professors from the Bandung Institute of Technology in Bandung, Indonesia are working with Meridian to develop materials for teaching Mathematical Modeling at the high school level as part of educational reform efforts in Indonesia. 
  • Meridian partners with Alianza Hispana, a Latino senior center in Roxbury, Boston, for community service. Our intermediate Spanish students visit the seniors every month throughout the to engage in recreational activities (cooking, singing, playing games) or to teach a lesson (e.g., the students taught the seniors in Spanish how to create and use an email account). 
 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Meridian's biggest management challenges are due to our small size and making sure that we have the resources to carry out all of the functions associated with running a secondary school and that we have the resilience to face disruptions that might be reasonably anticipated. In our early years, these were not necessarily possible, but as we mature and grow as an organization, more robust practices and policies are in place to guide the members of the community in such circumstances. These include better data management, distribution of and redundancy of responsibilities, and the ability to focus on honing some practices rather than building them all de nuovo. 
 
Meridian's opportunities are reflected in our increased ability, due to our growing reputation and degree of established programs, to hire the staffing that will continue to serve our students well. Despite our modest salaries, Meridian is very successful at recruiting teachers with great academic backgrounds and tremendous talent. Meridian's teaching and administrative staff all feel a strong bond with the school and community and commitment to its mission. 

Foundation Comments

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Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 11
Number of Part Time Staff 7
Number of Volunteers 30
Number of Contract Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 15
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 11
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? No
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan Yes
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Yes

Risk Management Provisions

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Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually

Governance


Board Chair Mr. Joshua Abrams
Board Chair Company Affiliation Meridian Academy
Board Chair Term June 2004 -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Joshua Abrams Meridian Academy Voting
Mr. John McCarthy , C.P.A. Senior Manager, Assurance Services, Braver PC Voting
Ms. Tricia Morrow Neighborhood School Voting
Ms. Beth Schultz Samaritans, Inc. Voting
Ms. Rebecca Shah Data Quality Campaign Voting
Ms. Gila Yudewitz Community Volunteer Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 100
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 67
Male: 33
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 1
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 90%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

    --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Meridian's board of trustees is small. It is a functional board with specific trustees with responsibility for development, program, financial operations, and outreach. However, we would like to increase our board size to provide opportunities for collaboration in each of these areas as well as add members with experience in law, human resources, and student recruitment. We are looking at different models for board growth.

Meridian believes in economies of scale. Small scale, that is. A small school has a more democratic, flatter hierarchy and the flexibility to respond to the needs of its students in ways that a larger school cannot do. Meridian is an intentionally small school that uses the cultural, scientific, natural, corporate, academic and other resources of the Greater Boston area as our extended campus. As a small school, we create a revised schedule each week so that classes can take advantage of time out in the community learning from and with the many organizations and individuals in our city. This flexibility, which can only work in a non-disruptive fashion in a very small school, means that the way we use time during our day serves the needs of the students and their learning rather than the other way around.

 

Because Meridian has access to the best museums, labs, libraries, and settings for field research and does not have to build them ourselves, we are able to keep our tuition more affordable than most independent schools. We then make an additional financial commitment to making Meridian affordable for all families by providing financial aid for over 60% of our families. While the national average for independent schools is to have financial aid as approximately 15% of a school’s expenses, Meridian’s commitment to serving an economically and racially diverse community is met by having 40% of our budget go toward financial aid. Even at that unusually high level, we are not able to fully meet the needs of our applicant pool and we continue to seek ways to increase our support for lower income families. Meridian actively recruits from schools and other academic organizations (e.g., The Steppingstone Foundation) within Boston and children from Boston’s neighborhoods (especially Dorchester, Hyde Park, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, and Roxbury) constitute two-thirds of our student body. Because a diverse and caring community is, with proper attention, self-sustaining, we are confident that Meridian will continue to be a model for integrated schooling.

Foundation Comments

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Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Fiscal Year July 01, 2016 to June 30, 2017
Projected Income $2,020,000.00
Projected Expense $2,000,000.00
Form 990s

2015 990

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

2010 990

2009 990

Audit Documents

2015 Audited Financials

2014 Audited Financials

2013 Audited Financials

2012 Audited Financials

2011 Audited Financials

2010 Audited Financials

2009 Audited Financials

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Total Revenue $1,611,105 $1,373,486 $979,667
Total Expenses $1,433,347 $1,139,522 $1,003,492

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $0 $0 $0
Individual Contributions $87,339 $82,743 $41,629
Indirect Public Support $0 $0 $0
Earned Revenue $1,507,099 $1,289,047 $930,996
Investment Income, Net of Losses $174 $527 $127
Membership Dues $0 $0 $0
Special Events $14,368 $0 $6,915
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $2,125 $1,169 $0

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Program Expense $1,333,602 $1,072,728 $916,554
Administration Expense $96,785 $66,699 $86,670
Fundraising Expense $2,960 $95 $268
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.12 1.21 0.98
Program Expense/Total Expenses 93% 94% 91%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 3% 0% 1%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Total Assets $959,756 $713,807 $368,013
Current Assets $766,896 $643,338 $311,564
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $467,345 $399,147 $287,560
Total Net Assets $492,411 $314,660 $80,453

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 3.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 1.64 1.61 1.08

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Meridian has a well-developed structure for communication and cross-checking spending and efforts between our Head of School, Business administrator, and treasurer. All three have ready online access to our accounting records. 
 
As a primarily tuition-driven school, we are dependent on admissions to both serve our mission and our financial needs (however, Meridian does not let finances guide our admissions decisions). Because of improved outreach efforts, an established campus building, and our educational and college track record, we had record admissions activity for the 2016-17 school year.  
 
Meridian continues to use its annual appeal to support our mission as an economically diverse school funding need-based scholarships and improving faculty salaries. These will both remain key areas of concern for the foreseeable future. Our per family donation rate has increased which is a positive sign for our development efforts.  

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's IRS Form 990s.  Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.

Documents


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.

Impact

The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.


1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

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2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

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3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

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4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

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5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

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