Educational Empowerment East of the Anacostia

The Achievement Prep Journey

Written by Jasmine S. Williams
June 2024

One of our first loans this year was to Achievement Prep, a tuition-free college preparatory charter school in Ward 8. We partnered with City First Bank on a refinancing deal to help them expand. We’re proud to support their work and excited to feature them here.

Founded in 2007 by Shantelle Wright, Achievement Prep was born out of a deeply rooted desire to close the educational achievement gap in one of the city’s most underserved communities. Nestled east of the Anacostia River, the school caters to a significant at-risk student population, embodying its ‘DREAM’ values of Determination, Respect, Enthusiasm, Accountability, and Mastery in every aspect of its operation. The school’s makeup is a microcosm of the broader Ward 8 population, with 95% of students identifying as Black, closely mirroring the staff composition. This alignment fosters a powerful sense of belonging and support.

Achievement Prep, recognized for its efforts to bridge the gap between low-income and affluent students, emphasizes a three-generational approach. This innovative approach to education engages students and alumni and extends support to families through partnerships with organizations like LIFT3, which focuses on empowering parents toward economic stability.

Achievement Prep’s impact is marked by its thoughtful expansion and tailored educational programs. Initially serving students through a historic building renovated in 2016, the school now provides comprehensive education from Pre-K through 5th grade with plans to expand to 8th grade.

Furthermore, a strategic collaboration has allowed the school to share space with Digital Pioneers Academy, enhancing its focus on quality elementary education while fostering growth. Reflecting on the high standards, Erica Harrell, Principal at Achievement Prep’s Middle School campus, shared, “There is a very high level of rigor and expectation for scholars at Achievement Prep, and they are fine with it. We are setting them up for success and preparing them for college.”

Achievement Preparatory Academy continues to pave the way for educational empowerment and community transformation in Washington, DC, through deliberate actions, meaningful partnerships, and an unwavering commitment to its mission.

To learn more about Achievement Preparatory Academy, visit



About City First Enterprises:

City First Enterprises is a certified CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) specializing in flexible lending for affordable housing, commercial real estate, small businesses, non-profits, and clean energy projects. With a mission to create equitable financial solutions to support people and communities in achieving their economic aspirations, we envision a future where all people and communities transform their futures through equitable access to capital.