Our History

In 2003, the Phoenix Charter Academy Network began like any other good idea: on a napkin.

Phoenix was created in response to a concerning trend in Chelsea —bright and talented young people whose needs were being inadequately met, who were given up on, and who had nowhere to turn. Driven to provide academically rigorous opportunities for high-risk youth, Founder & CEO Beth Anderson and other community leaders conceived of a school that would embed intensive supports around a culture of high expectations for older and disconnected youth. It would prove that all teenagers – not just malleable young children or middle schoolers who demonstrate academic mastery – could move past challenging life circumstances and socioeconomic barriers, rise to meet high academic standards, and secure economic stability in their futures when provided with the right educational environment.

Over time it has become clear that this need is not unique to Chelsea, as many other Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth are struggling to provide great educational opportunities for their youth; we’ve only begun to answer the call.

  • 2003

    Founder Beth Anderson receives a fellowship at Building Excellent Schools, an incubator for future charter school leaders, and begins recruiting others who share her vision for Chelsea youth

  • 2005

    Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) approves Phoenix Charter Academy for a five-year charter to become a model for alternative education.

  • 2006

    Phoenix Chelsea opens its doors to 75 students.

  • 2008

    Phoenix Chelsea graduates its first class of 7 college-bound students.

  • 2009

    Phoenix founds an in-house tutoring program for recent college graduates that receives a 3-year grant from AmeriCorps in 2010.


  • 2010

    First Phoenix Chelsea alumnus graduates from college.

  • 2011

    A proof point for alternative education, Phoenix Chelsea receives an unconditional 5-year renewal of its charter

  • 2012
    • Phoenix Chelsea earns unprecedented MCAS scores of 86% Advanced/Proficient in ELA and 72% Advanced/Proficient in Math.
    • Phoenix is replicated in Lawrence as a district school part of the state turnaround initiative, an unprecedented collaboration.
    • Phoenix Academy Lawrence opens its doors and Phoenix, now serving over 300 students across MA, founds a Charter Management Organization (CMO) designed to support a multi-school revolution.
  • 2013

    Phoenix Charter Academy Network is granted a new 5-year charter by DESE to open a third school in Springfield, Massachusetts.

  • 2014
    • Phoenix Lawrence graduates its first class of 5 college-bound students.
    • Phoenix Charter Academy Springfield opens its doors expanding Phoenix’s reach to over 500 students across the state.
  • 2015

    100% of Phoenix Lawrence students earn Advanced or Proficient scores on the ELA MCAS, outperforming the state.

  • 2016
    • Phoenix Chelsea receives a second unconditional 5-year renewal of its charter.
    • Phoenix Springfield graduates its first class of 9 college-bound students, joining over 200 Phoenix Network alumnae.