impact report 2020 | Albuquerque Academy

A Message from the Head of School

Dear Academy family and friends,

I am delighted to present the 2019-20 Impact Report to the Albuquerque Academy community. Each year, we are pleased to provide a snapshot of the fiscal and philanthropic health from the prior school year and to share gratitude for the countless ways you supported us throughout the year.

Like all independent schools, philanthropy is an essential component for the Academy and vital to the successful delivery of our time-honored mission. Currently tuition income covers just 77% of our annual budget. Distributions from our endowment and charitable contributions provide the rest, which is why our advancement efforts are an important priority each year.

Beyond financial contributions, support for the Academy takes many forms and includes a variety of opportunities for engagement. Whether you dedicated time to a parent or alumni council, contributed to faculty appreciation efforts, cheered on an academic or athletic team, advocated for our school in the community, or warmly welcomed new families, all are equally generous gifts that perpetuate the unique character of our community and for which we are deeply grateful.

Just as support for the Academy takes many forms, so does the impact generated by our collective support. The financial impact is seen in attracting the best teachers, by offering an unparalleled breadth of programs, and through impressive opportunities for innovation. It also allows us to personally care for our students and families as you did through the nearly 300 donations received last spring for the Endurance Fund. Thirty-two families were provided emergency financial assistance that enabled our community to stay intact this school year as we continue to weather the effects of the pandemic.

Beyond our campus gates, the impact of the Albuquerque Academy community is exponential. We do not have to look very far to see the substantial impact of generations of students and their families woven into the fabric of our greater Albuquerque community. Our nearly 8,000 graduates and their families serve not only Albuquerque and New Mexico, but in communities across our nation and around the world.

For 65 years, the Academy has united faculty and families with a shared belief in and commitment to the highest standards of education. The thriving community I inherited as head of school is a testament to those shared ideals. I look forward to meeting you, working with you and your children, and advancing the Academy for generations to come. Thank you again for your generous commitments and continued support of Albuquerque Academy.

Go Chargers!

Julianne Puente, Head of School

Total number of donors: 805
Number of consecutive giving donors for 10+ years: 160
18% of donors gave for the first time.

An Extraordinary Year

2019-20 was a year filled with important milestones for our school, including successfully completing our 10-year reaccreditation with ISAS, launching new funding initiatives, navigating the enormous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and transitioning to a new head of school for the first time in 19 years. Thank you for your friendship and thoughtful philanthropy supporting the Academy during this important time, which sustains us and gives us hope for a very bright future.

Gifts to Albuquerque Academy in 2019-20 supported 1,157 students in grades 6-12, of which 52% were girls, 48% were boys, and 53% were students of color. The sixth-grade class came from 55 schools throughout the state. The diversity of our student body fosters mutual respect and the sharing of unique ideas, important components of learning and growing.

Student Life

Gifts supporting student life provide unique and unforgettable school experiences, making a memorable Academy education possible. Academy students are world-class artists and athletes, scholars and explorers.


In the fall, 27 teams competed across six different sports, and in the winter, student-athletes played on 19 teams in five different sports. Chargers brought home one state championship (girls swimming) and five runners up (girls and boys cross country, girls soccer, volleyball, and boys swimming) in a year without a spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We were also honored to be named the top high school athletic program in the state of New Mexico since 2018 by MaxPreps.


Academic choices and opportunities were plentiful. Twenty-two visual arts courses and 45 performing arts courses were offered, 46 students were All-State music participants, and students earned 86 Southwest Region Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. We were excited to launch our new computing department, which added a seventh-grade course, opened a STEAM lab in the 6-7 division, and more than doubled enrollment in programming electives. In our language classrooms, students learned Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Latin.


More than 80 clubs were offered across all three divisions. So many recognitions were earned by our students, including a national speech and debate champ and bringing home the state championship by the chess team. Way to go, Chargers!

Physical Plant Upgrades

Our physical plant is responsible for the enormous task of maintaining our facilities and 312-acre campus. Over the past year and a half, the Academy’s grounds crew has transformed the landscape at parking lot 5 from a tangle of overgrown juniper bushes and dying pine trees inundated with bugs, rodents, and trash to a pristine turf-covered space lined with eight specimen trees (six box elders and two Chinese pistache), all of which were provided by generous donors. In addition, three of the lot 5 islands have been converted from barren hotspots to elegantly designed landscapes weaving together a tapestry of climate-appropriate trees, grasses, and flowers surrounded by a colorful mix of gravel. With each passing year, the trees in lot 5 will provide cars and their owners with an increasing level of cover and comfort from the sun, our constant companion in New Mexico. Also, beginning in May 2020, the natatorium has undergone a massive facelift, including the installation of a new surface (plaster and tile) in both pools, a new pool deck, a new boiler, a new pool/water treatment system, new paint, new fire sprinklers, and a new roof. Your support helps with important projects like these!

Pivoting as a Community: COVID-19 Response

When the global pandemic forced us to close our campus last March, Academy faculty, staff, physical plant, and administration teams responded quickly. Technology and remote accessibility issues were addressed, and our community was converted to online learning in just a couple weeks’ time. While our community sought meaningful ways to connect in an unanticipated virtual reality, preparations were underway to maneuver spring activities and time-honored events and to harness a sense of normalcy in a new climate of uncertainty. Understanding that COVID-19 was rewriting what was temporarily possible, Academy leadership was busy preparing to fundamentally change the way our academic schedules work in an effort to accommodate in-person or online learning - or a need to toggle between the two if and as conditions required. The remainder of the spring and summer focused on the dual importance of preparing our faculty to deliver the best quality curriculum online and to ensure a COVID-ready campus for the health and safety of our community and compliance with public health orders.

Faculty/Staff Preparations: 37 faculty trained for four weeks in the Global Online Academy Design Bootcamp and Coaching Workshop, ensuring a better online learning experience for students and teachers who are ready to serve as leaders for other Academy faculty. Academy graduates and other young adults were hired to serve as teaching assistants and to provide the anticipated extra labor needed across campus to support a variety of needs.

Campus Improvements/Upgrades: Our physical plant team transformed our campus to ensure social-distancing guidelines are met by measuring and calculating classroom and campus space capacity, moving and rearranging furniture and teaching materials in every classroom, and creating a plan to systematically clean and disinfect all campus spaces. Flexible furniture to ensure social distancing, upgrades to all HVAC systems and the purchase of high quality air filters, PPE and health screening equipment for all community members, upgrades to educational technology for classrooms, and increased WIFI capabilities are new additions to our campus.

Philanthropic support made it possible for the Academy to remain flexible and address the extensive COVID-related needs as they arose. The advancement office launched the Academy Endurance Fund, which raised more than $170,000 to help care for our families facing COVID-19-related financial setbacks and to keep our community intact in the 2020-21 school year. As a result, our campus is fully prepared to safely and securely meet the needs of our community - as a community.

54 Academy Society Donors (annual giving of $2,500 or more)
22 endowed funds ($35,000+, established in perpetuity)
335 alumni donations

Alumni Recognition

Each year, the alumni body is invited to submit nominations for two alumni awards — the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Young Alumni Service Award. Over Homecoming Weekend in Fall 2019, James Borrego ’96 was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award. James began his NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs. He gained his initial head coaching experience in the NBA serving the final 30 games of the 2014-15 season as the interim head coach for the Orlando Magic. James was named the 11th head coach in Charlotte Hornets franchise history in May 2018.

Noreen Kassam ’08 was presented the Young Alumni Service Award. Driven by a strong desire to pursue a career in public service, Noreen worked in government during her years in college, and after graduation Noreen joined the White House Advance Team where she coordinated the international and domestic logistical operations and diplomatic protocol for the Offices of the President and Vice President. Since leaving the government in early 2017, Noreen has continued serving communities at home and abroad through her security consulting firm NAAK Global, dedicated to providing innovative strategies and solutions for individuals and organizations facing security risks around the world.

We have nearly 8,000 alumni living in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 50 countries around the world. We are grateful to the 335 alums who made gifts in support of their alma mater last year.

Honoring Andy Watson

The Andrew and Carol Watson Tuition Assistance Fund was fully endowed in 2020 and will provide financial support for families who qualify for tuition assistance, enabling deserving students to attend the Academy by sustaining one of the pillars of our school’s mission. This named endowed fund was established by 95 inaugural donors who gave $59,716 to honor Andy and Carol’s 19 years of service to the Academy and to wish them well in retirement. Many programs, initiatives, and traditions were championed by Andy over his years at the Academy, including alumni commencement speeches, the beloved tradition of seniors and sixth graders processing up the path to convocation, becoming a Global Online Academy founding member with nine other world-class independent schools, the school song — Light the Way, the five-acre solar array, the Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Gage Award in recognition of an outstanding teacher. We thank Andy for everything he has done!

Congratulations to the Class of 2020

While we know this was not the spring anyone had anticipated or hoped for, a heartwarming highlight of the spring was the car parade that celebrated the Class of 2020. Though the final months of their senior year were unlike any other, our community was no less proud to applaud and honor their hard work, resiliency, and extensive accomplishments before they headed off to their post-Academy endeavors. We were thrilled to welcome them as the newest members of the Albuquerque Academy Alumni Association and to this next phase of their lives in the Charger family.

The Class of 2020 had 13 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists and nine National Hispanic Scholars and is now attending 77 colleges in 29 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada. The class was offered more than $14 million in scholarships and more than $3 million was accepted.

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance supports a key aspect of the school’s mission. For 2019-20, we provided 24% of our students (281 recipients) with need-based tuition assistance totaling more than $4.5 million. Fifty students received full grants ($24,795), and $17,145 was given to families receiving assistance to help cover expenses for supplies and extracurricular activities, all of which can be offered with the support of our generous donors. In response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, donors contributed to the Endurance Fund, which provided $170,693 in emergency tuition-assistance grants to 32 students whose families experienced an unexpected loss of income in Spring 2020.

Five New Funding Initiatives

At the end of 2019, our school launched five new funding initiatives: the Andrew and Carol Watson Tuition Assistance Fund, the Harper Stadium Complex, the Bike Park, Computing Initiatives, and the Academy Future Fund. The positive feedback and gifts we received for these new initiatives was heartening, and we look forward to growing them and positively impacting our campus and programs.

Experiential Education

The experiential education curriculum gives Albuquerque Academy students authentic experiences in the southwest backcountry, provides opportunities for technical skill development, and helps students genuinely grow as leaders. Developed in 2020, the pump track is Ex Ed’s new rising star. The pump track is a series of ridable features that build students’ skills and confidence. The Albuquerque Academy Fund has allowed Ex Ed to raise funds for bikes, protective equipment, and the track itself, making this an accessible and inclusive part of the Ex Ed curriculum.

Endowment Assets

2015: $93,100,876

2016: $86,656,966

2017: $86,754,297

2018: $85,383,538

2019: $89,533,729

2020: $84,683,243 (as of June 30)

Supporting the Academy

Albuquerque Academy Fund: $1,274,135

Endowment: $109,148

Capital Projects: $18,485

Total Giving FY20: $1,401,768

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Academy: A Continued Conversation

Albuquerque Academy is guided by our mission when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We strive daily to value and affirm diversities of all types and to create a truly “caring, inclusive, and just community.” Local and national events over the 2019-20 school year, particularly in the spring with the public outcry and violence around the murder of George Floyd, brought to light our own DEI issues and perspectives as a community. Students, parents, faculty, and alumni reached out to our diversity leaders and administrators to relay their Academy experiences and inquire about ongoing or planned DEI work. The Academy recognizes the vital importance of continuing to prioritize this work, not just for the benefit of our community, but for the positive impacts generated by our awareness and activism across our greater Albuquerque community and the globe.

Our office of diversity and inclusion led many activities during the 2019-20 academic year, including:

  • Diversity and inclusion workshops/mini courses for seventh and ninth graders
  • Launching a LGBTQ+ parent group
  • Faculty and staff participation in book discussions on Ibram X. Kendi's How to be an Antiracist and Global Youth Leadership Institute course on civil discourse
  • The continuation of many student diversity groups like Student Diversity Leadership Club, SAGA, Hispanic Student Association, and the newly formed Black Student Association
  • Student participation in national and regional diversity activities like the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference, the NM Youth Celebrate Diversity Conference, and UNM’s annual Black History Month kick-off
  • Bringing No Place for Hate— an initiative through the Anti-Defamation League to combat hate, biases, and bullying — to our school
  • Hosting diversity speaker and trainer Rosetta Lee at an all-faculty and staff in-service training around cross-difference communication and student presentations on identity and microaggressions
  • Offering the tuition-free Multicultural Summer Honors Program (though canceled for the current year due to COVID-19) to 100 diverse students from the metro area
  • Commemorating Black History month and the Chinese Lunar New Year with guest speakers and experiences

A Community in Service

At the core of Albuquerque Academy’s mission is a belief in the fundamental importance of authentic learning and the need to help students use their knowledge to serve and contribute to the community and the world. The community and global citizenship program at Albuquerque Academy provides a springboard for action, as students are required to integrate community service into their educational journeys. Your support helps connect Academy students to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, teaching them about service and how they can contribute to their community as supportive citizens and volunteers. Collectively, students have volunteered tens of thousands of hours! All ninth graders are able to take trips to visit, tour, and volunteer at local nonprofits thanks to your contributions.

Giving TuesdAAy: December 1, 2020

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. With service at the heart of the Albuquerque Academy mission, we are proud to support this unified day of giving. To further encourage service in our community and annual giving to the Academy, we are excited to join the movement of inspiring charitable giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Please mark your calendar for December 1 and make plans to participate in the Academy’s Giving TuesdAAy!

Volunteers Make a Difference

Advancement volunteers help garner enthusiasm among the Academy community for the activities of the development and alumni programs, which serve the mission of Albuquerque Academy by building and perpetuating a community of support among its stakeholders and working with donors to help them understand the opportunities for partnership with the school. Volunteers help us to join together with our Charger community and find meaningful and fun ways to engage parents, alumni, and grandparents in the life of the Academy. We are grateful for the wonderful volunteers who help our school in so many important ways.

Thank you!

We are grateful to all in our community who made gifts to Albuquerque Academy during the 2020 fiscal year. Your gifts help the Academy continue to be a place where students learn, grow, and succeed. Thank you for supporting our students as they make their mark on the world.

The many names listed here demonstrate that every gift to Albuquerque Academy – no matter the size – truly matters.

Many people in our Academy family have given their time, talent, and treasure, making an incredible impact on our school. Donor support creates learning opportunities and supports all facets of Albuquerque Academy’s mission and for that we extend a heartfelt thanks. All gifts – annual gifts that make an immediate impact to endowed funds that last in perpetuity – enable the school to achieve its mission and remind us every day that with the right resources, there’s no limit to what we can make possible together.

The 2019-20 Impact Report is a publication of the Albuquerque Academy advancement team. All efforts have been made to verify the accuracy of our data. If anything appears in error, please contact us at advancement@aa.edu so a correction may be made. To learn more about our advancement efforts or to make your annual gift to the Academy visit www.aa.edu/support.