Life For Life Academy (LFLA), established in 2000 as the first charter school in St. Louis, has a rich history to tell and a vision that is changing the economic future of its urban students. In 1988 Marshall Cohen and his wife, Carla, started an inner city gym, to offer youth a constructive place for after school activity. He would pick the kids up from their homes and take them to the gym to teach them weightlifting skills. They entered many national tournaments and it was an empowering experience for them, giving them a broader perspective in life. After a few years, Marshall realized that these youth needed a stronger education in order to escape poverty and become financially independent.

Lift For Life Academy was born in 2000. Initially it began as a middle school with 60 students. But the vision grew and in 2012 a high school was added. Enrollment increased to over 585 students. Over 85% of the students are entitled to free or reduced lunch and all reside in the City of St. Louis. Daily attendance is 93+% and over 90% of seniors graduate.

But, the vision doesn’t stop here. School leadership noticed that entering 6th graders were often one to four levels behind in both math and reading. In response, LFLA opened an elementary school this past August, offering K-2nd. Grades 3 – 5 will be added each subsequent year until LFLA is a complete Academy, K-12.

The culture at Lift For Life Academy is nurturing, compassionate and challenging. It feels like family and our priority is to ensure that all students are proficient in core subjects, graduate with a strong academic foundation and then assist them in developing a life plan beyond graduation. Over 80% of graduating seniors pursue, college, technical school or the military.

Our story is inspiring and offers students a chance to blossom and grow to their fullest potential.  This year we reflect on our journey —the memories, the amazing growth and the many lives we have touched!