“We made a conscious decision to outsource…”

Lisa J. Nutter

Founded in 1969 to reduce the dropout rate in Philadelphia’s public schools, Philadelphia Academies, Inc. today is providing 21st Century work and life-readiness skills to over 4,500 Philadelphia youth each year. Working with some 400 volunteers and a private sector heavily engaged in public education, President Lisa J. Nutter and her staff of 30 provide “school-within-a-school” academies in 10 career areas in 16 high schools. Here, 10th – 12th graders are motivated through career-connected curricula and experiences, summer work, leadership development, and internships. The academies expose them to work and college opportunities, social networking, and caring adults who raise their expectations and hold them accountable. Students learn that they are actors in their own lives and that they can shape their futures.

Research has found this career academy model to be highly successful, with high percentages of graduates working or continuing their education, and with positive social and economic impacts. The nationally acclaimed Philadelphia Academies model has been replicated in 2,500 high schools across the U.S.

“Our goal is to help kids be resilient. We believe that if we give them the right information they’ll make the right choices,” says Nutter.

Your Part-Time Controller was brought on board several years ago when Nutter was transitioning into her role as President. “I wanted them to take a look at our finances and processes and to make recommendations. As we began to reorganize around those recommendations, it became clear that we had other needs. So we asked them to help us do our financial projections, to add a forward-thinking component rather than our always being in the moment, and to be a part of our team.”

That team consists of Nutter, the director of operations, a financial assistant, and YPTC Associate Jerry Troy. Together, they continue to establish new processes and find ways to streamline operations. Troy also provides professional development and training, and sits in on Finance & Audit Committee meetings where he presents information. “We’re now able to get clear, accessible reports about where we are and we can project ahead to the end of the year,” says Nutter.

“Our financial operations are not that complex, so we made a conscious decision to outsource our controller. Hiring a Chief Financial Officer isn’t a cheap decision. We weren’t particularly interested in putting out a big salary for a CFO,” she says. As a result, Philadelphia Academies, Inc. has been able to put more of its limited resources into programs for youth and less into overhead.


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