Tucked into a renovated two-story building at the edge of Brophy College Prep is a tuition-free middle school for boys from across Maricopa County.
Loyola Academy opened in 2011 to prepare boys from underprivileged families for Brophy College Prep, a nationally recognized private Jesuit high school in central Phoenix.
For Nelson Martinez De Los Santos who was part of the founding class of sixth-graders, it was an opportunity of a lifetime.
Now a freshman at College of the Holy Cross in Boston, Martinez De Los Santos said he spent 40 minutes each day commuting to Loyola. The 10-hour school day and 11-month school year propels students forward academically and socially. Once they complete middle school, the boys earn a full-ride scholarship to Brophy, which is about $15,000 annually.
“I still remember like it was yesterday,” said De Los Santos. “It’s just a unique experience. It’s a paradise, they really take care of you there. It’s like a family.”
Rigorous, but supportive, Martinez De Los Santos said at the heart of the school is its founding director – Kendra Krause.
“Ms. Krause is like my second mom. She never waits to be supportive or lend a helping hand, she’s always there,” said Martinez De Los Santos, whose family immigrated to the U.S. when he was one-year-old. “She’s really dedicated her life to make sure students who have come from situations like mine… are successful. I honestly wouldn’t be in college without her.”
Krause said Brophy’s leadership saw that even with increased financial aid, some students “would still struggle when they got here, sometimes academically, sometimes socially, usually both.”
So, the idea was born to create a feeder middle school to equip these young boys with the academic and social foundation to succeed at Brophy.
“We want to help eliminate anything that might keep a boy from being successful and focusing on school,” Krause said. “I do think that it’s more than just money to go to a private school. We try hard to provide a whole experience that benefits a boy and his family.”
Fifth-grade students qualify to attend Loyola based on recommendations, academic potential and financial need. Beyond tuition, Loyola provides students with uniforms, technology, transportation, meals and support for families.
Brophy’s mission is to transform young men into leaders committed to service and social justice, or Men for Others, said Brophy President Adria Renke.
“Loyola Academy lives our mission. It truly is men and women for and with others. It’s the best thing Brophy College Prep has done since 1928,” she said. “We are all different because of Loyola Academy, no question. It has changed the fabric of our school.”