The Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) is a charter school founded in 2003 with help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
A shining beacon among charter schools throughout the country, DECA is strategically located to support inner-city students in Dayton, Ohio. The school serves junior and high school students with the singular goal of preparing them for college. To support this goal they have created a very unique program, outlined in Breaking the Cycle, called “Gateways.” Remarkably 86% of DECA grads are in college and on-track to graduate. The leaders of DECA contribute their success to not being afraid to identify and overcome the many challenges of preparing urban kids for the rigors of higher education. DECA’s faculty is trained in sixteen unique teaching styles. New approaches are encouraged along with continual training. Newly trained teachers are required to share findings with fellow teachers. To quote an excerpt from Breaking the Cycle, “It’s a safe and loving environment.” DECA uses a family model to mentor and nurture success. Each student is assigned an “advisor” charged with knowing everything they can about their students’ home and academic lives. DECA Prep was just introduced to support kindergarten through sixth grade students and has already proven successful in better preparing students for junior high.