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How to help Louisville students get private school education tuition-free

Their class sizes are small and the school days are long, but students at Nativity Academy like it that way.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It's not often you hear about a private school that comes tuition free for all of its students, but that's a reality for students at Nativity Academy at St. Boniface in downtown Louisville.

Donations from the community help make this reality possible and this Thursday you'll have the chance to be part of its big impact during Give for Good Louisville.

The charity event is the largest day of online giving in Kentuckiana, with more than 500 organizations asking for your support.

Nativity Academy sits near the corner of Liberty and Hancock streets, and is home to about 45 middle schoolers, from 6th to 8th grade. Their class sizes are small and the school days are long, but they like it that way.

"Our students are here for 9.5 hours a day," Amy Olsen, the executive director of Nativity Academy said. "They're dropped off in the morning, have a traditional school day, and then there's tutoring and enrichment to the outside world."

Students take classes in the arts, cooking, chess club, things Olsen says will enrich students' lives that families may not be able to provide on their own. 

"They're students who have a commitment to achievement but whose families demonstrate financial need," she said.

It's an opportunity for a private middle school education without paying a dime of tuition, made possible through grants, private businesses and community donations.

"If it weren't for Give for Good, we wouldn't be able to come up with the $10,000 per year that it takes to educate each child," Olsen said.

Families who attend the school pay just a small monthly fee and are required to be a part of the school experience through volunteer work and attending conferences.

At least 82% of the students live below the poverty level and are from all over the city. And while their time at Nativity Academy is short, the relationships follow them into adulthood.

"I get to build community with my friends, my brothers," Cordell Montgomery, an 8th grader, said. "We get to play basketball, football, flag football."

Together, they learn to strive, overcome, achieve and respect. It's the Nativity model. Now in it's nineteenth year, it needs the community to keep it going.

"I'd tell people I'm thankful for all the things people have given to our school because without them, we wouldn't be able to to all the stuff we do today," Caiden Silver, an 8th grader said.

Olsen says that the school will check in on students twice a semester in high school and help them move in on college day, all to help them succeed. 

"If they're working hard and their family is committed, I will knock on doors to keep them here, because this is the best place for them to be," Olsen said.

If you'd like to donate to Nativity Academy, Give for Good Louisville is this Thursday. The site is activated at midnight, with dollar-for-dollar matches and prize incentives that amplify your gifts.

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