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Through the Economic Doldrums, One Salt Lake City Company is Sailing Strong

Matthew LaPlante
The American Academy
801-931-2707 ext 2062


Salt Lake City, Utah — August 19, 2011 — Facing the worst economy since the Great Depression, many businesses are fighting just to survive.

But on the 11th Floor of the Walker Center in downtown Salt Lake City, employees of The American Academy are fighting to keep up with an exploding demand for their services.

The online high school, which is accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission, partners with school districts across the nation to help turn dropouts into diploma holders. The school facilitates its innovative NoDropouts programs in nearly three-dozen districts — about half of which have come on board since June. In that same period more than 250 former dropouts have made a simple pledge: “I will graduate.”

“From a sheer business standpoint, of course it feels good to see this sort of growth, especially considering the economic environment,” says American Academy co-founder and president Gregg Rosann, who has recently added faculty and student support staff in several states, including in the school’s Utah home office. “But I’ve been in business for a long time, and I’ve been with fast-growing companies before and it’s never felt like this. And that’s because of what we’re doing — we’re helping students improve their lives.”

NoDropouts students are provided a laptop computer, on which they perform their schoolwork guided by a personal online mentor and a local advocate from their community. The students have 24-7 access to tutors and can connect with teachers over the telephone, by e-mail or through the school’s virtual learning environment. Tests are proctored by local community leaders.

The American Academy’s co-founder and chief academic officer, Rebekah Richards, says she’s not interested in giving dropouts an easy path to a diploma. “And that’s not even what they want,” Richards said. “Most of our students didn’t leave school because of academic reasons, they left because they had a baby or because they had to work to help support their families, or because they were fleeing gangs or bullies. They can handle academic challenges — what they need is flexibility and support, and that’s what we give them.”

The American Academy works with districts in Michigan, Louisiana, Florida, Washington, Oregon and Nevada and is expected to initiate NoDropouts programs in several other states in the coming year. The school has a “non-compete” agreement with the Utah Electronic High School, from which it receives curriculum, and as a result does not currently have plans to add students in Utah, though its recent expansion has led to several new positions here.

“I have to say that I feel really fortunate to be here right now,” says Spencer Demann, who recruits new students into the program “Like everybody, I know a lot of people who are out of work right now. But I come into the office and every week there are more people around me. And the best part is that we’re not just working, we’re working for these students.”

For more information about The American Academy, visit For media inquiries, contact Matthew LaPlante at 801-931-2707 ext 2062 or