The winners of the $25,000 Century Business Challenge were named Thursday afternoon at the Century Business Center. But in the end, it appears the contest may foster more winners by sparking a spirit of entrepreneurship and friendship in Century.
“These kids need to have a school in Century that is theirs, that is part of their community,” Barbara Barber of East Hill Academy, and the soon-to-be Century Academy said. “This was a real win for the special needs children in the local area.”
The Century Business Challenge awarded $20,000 to East Hill Academy to be used toward a special needs school in Century.
East Hill Academy operates schools for children with learning disabilities in Pensacola and Milton. As a private non-profit organization providing educational services to about 135 children (grades 1-12) with Autism and other related disorders, the school seeks to help students succeed when otherwise their learning disabilities make it impractical to place them in a regular school setting.
Barber said the new Century Academy should open in the fall of 2016, prepared to serve about 20 students with two classrooms. Plans call for the addition of at least one new classroom per year. Negotiations are underway to locate the Century Academy in a portion of the former Carver/Century K-8 School.
While Century Academy will be a private pay school, Barber said any child with an “IEP” (Individualized Education Program) at their current school would be eligible for a scholarship that would cover tuition and fees. There are currently 368 students with an IEP in school in the Century and Walnut Hill areas that would eligible for the Century Academy, she said.