CEO Welcome

Thank you for your interest in Making Waves Academy. At MWA, we continue to show that historically underserved and socio-economically disadvantaged students can learn at high levels, gain admission to college, graduate, and contribute to their communities.

Founded in 2007, the Academy is a 5th-12th grade public charter school in Richmond that prepares our students (“Wave-Makers”) academically and social-emotionally to earn their college degree (or an appropriately challenging post-secondary degree). Currently, approximately 70% of Academy graduates enroll in four-year colleges and universities and about 25% matriculate to two-year colleges. Of our first three classes of MWA graduates, over 75% are still enrolled in CAP and making progress toward their college degree.

What distinguishes MWA is our holistic approach and our focus on college completion. To that end, we provide rigorous academic preparation, social-emotional education, and psychological support. We help students identify their life dream for themselves and support them in making decisions aligned with achieving that dream. Our goal is to develop thoughtful, responsible, and independent thinkers. And, we have designed our approach to teaching and learning based on an efficacy and growth mindset approach to learning—for both our students and our faculty and staff.

Since our founding, MWA has taken an approach to school that is rooted in community. The community of course is comprised of the school itself, but also exists in relation to the larger community around the school. Some of our students face a variety of challenges that undermine their sense of safety and self-worth. It is difficult for students to learn when they do not feel safe, seen, or heard. We extend this sense of community engagement to our parents and the larger community of Richmond. MWA aims to be responsive to the needs of the communities we serve.

Our school is growing to serve more students. Through an expansion project supported by Making Waves Foundation, the Richmond campus will gain an additional 14 acres and 250,000 square feet of teaching space, as well as a parent resource center, spaces for the restorative practices program, Middle and Upper School gymnasiums, maker spaces, and a performance art space. By 2025-2026 we intend to educate over 1,400 students at our main campus plus several hundred more K-3 students at another nearby location (up from ~950 today).

Our growing school, our strong community, and our continued success are proof points for what accessible, public education can look like. We look forward to empowering a growing number of students to learn at the highest levels, gain admission to college, graduate, and contribute to society.


Alton B. Nelson, Jr., Ed.M.
Making Waves Academy CEO