CEO Welcome


As the CEO for Making Waves Academy (MWA), I have the good fortune of leading our organization through a dynamic time, working with our leadership, Board of Directors, and staff to serve our students, families, and the community of Richmond. This is a time of unprecedented challenges, as our country faces a pandemic and is engaged in a national reckoning on institutional racism and the enduring legacy of white supremacy. Amidst these trying times, our task remains to develop academic and holistic pathways and places of safety, equity, and inclusion within our school community, while also laying the groundwork for college and career preparation that our students need in order to achieve the dreams they have for themselves.

The current pandemic challenges us to develop new approaches to teaching and learning that maintain high levels of academic rigor and engagement while also developing different ways for students to maintain social-emotional connection with peers. While there is no substitute for in-person teaching and learning, we also see this time as an opportunity to innovate. This will be a year of both challenge and opportunity.

Our early commitment to technology tools in the classroom has allowed us to pivot better than many schools to deliver remote instruction for our nearly 1,100 students in grades 5-12. We provide Chromebook devices to every student to support distance learning and access to online learning-management systems and platforms, and we give hot spot devices to all students who have difficulty accessing the internet.

To advance our mission, MWA works in partnership with Making Waves Foundation (MWF), led by CEO Patrick O’Donnell. Our two organizations share a common goal of providing opportunities that can change the lives of our students and their families. MWA focuses on college access, and the MWF CAP program focuses on college success. The CAP program begins to work with our students specifically in the spring of their senior year as they make critical decisions about college admissions and financial aid. After our Wave-Makers graduate from MWA they formally are admitted into the CAP program. Our proven outcomes in both areas signal that we are on the right track with our combined approach to college access and success.

Making Waves is an organization with deep roots in Richmond and the surrounding communities, dating back to the 1980s. We are committed to the community and our families. Resilience is an organizational value and something that has always been a hallmark of our students, families, and staff. The MWA community will get through this challenging time together, with learnings that will make us stronger as individuals and as a school.


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