Visible Men Academy receives $15,750 from Manatee Community Foundation

eearl@bradenton.comJanuary 24, 2014 

MANATEE -- The Visible Men Academy, an all-boys charter school, received a $15,750 grant Thursday from the Manatee Community Foundation at its legacy luncheon.

Visible Men Academy founder Neil Phillips said the grant will help the school grow.

The Visible Men Academy now serves students in kindergarten through second grade, but Phillips plans to eventually expand the school to kindergarten through eighth grade. Phillips said he wants to add another grade level as soon as the 2014-15 school year.

"One of our greatest needs is money," Phillips said. "We may even be more aggressive and add more than one more grade level next year."

Phillips said beyond funding, all schools, not just Visible Men, need parent involvement.

"You should demand more out of all of us," Phillips said. "We are not providing children from low-income households the education they need to excel in life."

Visible Men Academy is seeking volunteers to read

with students and provide character development.

Even in kindergarten through second grade, Phillips said some students are entering the new school below grade level.

Amy Wick Mavis, executive director of the Pace Center for Girls, said she is also concerned about students falling behind.

"There is a great deal of remediation when a child falls behind," Wick Mavis said. "Students need to be able to focus on themselves to succeed."

Like Visible Men Academy, Pace focuses on specific learning styles for each gender.

"Boys and girls have different learning styles. Girls are relationship builders," Wick Mavis said. "It is incumbent upon us to create a learning environment around being partners."

Phillips said he wants the community to support all schools in Manatee County.

"We need to do whatever we can to stop wasting our time on the tension between charter versus public schools and this versus that," Phillips said. "We all need to be in support of a great education."

Karen Miller, grants committee chairwoman for the Manatee Community Foundation, said she supports Phillip's goals for Visible Men Academy.

"We believe in the vision," Miller said.

The Manatee Community Foundation is made up of 19 organizations designed to develop grants and donations.

"You do not have to be Donald Trump to be a legacy donor," Manatee Community Foundation Executive Director Marilyn Howard said.

Visible Men Academy second-graders Kevin Cruz and Marvens Lacombe attended the lunch at Pier 22.

"All I have to say is I really love my teachers," Cruz said.

Phillips said while he was scheduled to speak at the luncheon, the grant came as a surprise.

"We always think first about the students' needs," Phillips said. "We will be thinking about how we can directly impact them with this donation."

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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