Inside Our Nest
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Our Mission

educate, enrich, empower

The Nest Academy is a trauma-informed, private school with a vision to change the life trajectories of charlotte’s refugee, Immigrant, under privileged, at-risk, under represented children to become first-generation high school graduates.

Our story

The Nest Academy was founded by Mary Catherine (MC) Hildreth in 2009. While homeschooling her three children and operating a non-profit for refugee youth in Charlotte’s Eastside.

MC was heading an after-school tutoring program for K-12 graders to help them advance educationally and offer support.

It was through the tutoring program that major setbacks and overwhelming cases of illiteracy were discovered, along with other educational obstacles. She was deeply troubled that these children were truly slipping through the cracks in the educational system. They struggled academically, socially, and emotionally to the point of hopelessness.

MC felt compelled to do something immediately. She had the vision of what would become the Nest Academy, the heart, and the determination to believe it was possible to make a difference. She began a research-based prototype school with a handful of students, a certified teacher, and BIG faith that would become “The little school for refugees making a big difference,” as acclaimed by EdNC.

The academy was founded on the vision for changing a broken system with just 5 girls who spoke English as a second or third language, were unable to read and write, were hopeless, were unwilling and unable to succeed. One of Charlotte’s great needs was for someone to champion for these children’s success…The Nest set out to be that CHAMPION and, in 14 years, has 18 first-generation graduates.

Our vision

The Nest Academy’s vision is to change the life trajectories of Charlotte’s most vulnerable refugee, immigrant, underprivileged and at-risk students to overcome educational barriers and obstacles in an environment that gives them great hope, love, and acceptance. We instill courage and confidence to achieve personal and academic success in their lives. 

Our mission

The Nest Academy’s mission is to empower, enrich and educate children who were at great risk of slipping through the cracks of our public school system educationally, socially and emotionally, propelling them forward to academic success through an individualized, strategic education plan that is designed for their learning styles. 

Our history

Founded from the vision to fulfill its mission in 2009, The Nest Academy offered the ‘gift of education to 5 refugee girls, alleviating the barriers, obstacles, and pressures of public school, whose circumstances had stunted their academic success and they were falling behind due to unmet individual needs. The academy grew from 5 girls in 2009 to 53 in 2023. In 14 years, The Nest has graduated 18 first-generation seniors.

The Nest's Method

EDUCATE, ENRICH and EMPOWER students struggling to thrive with quality EDUCATION, a sense of COMMUNITY with LOVE and RESPECT, and to ENCOURAGE them to become confident, educated, accomplished, generous, and successful FIRST GENERATION high school graduates. WE HAVE SEEN GREAT SUCCESS! The academy is unique, out of the box, and unprecedented.

The Nest offers a trauma-informed approach to learning with professionally certified trauma experts, provides emotional/social learning in the classroom, offers one-on-one professional student counseling and family counseling, and has created a custom learning environment that is multi-age, multi-grade, multi-level, and multi-faceted.

We integrate creative, performing and visual arts, music, and rhythm therapy, provide a holistic approach to address the whole child, welcome public speakers in the community to inspire students, offer cutting-edge physical, social, and emotional training, and many experiential opportunities outside of the classroom, much like those MC personally experienced growing up.

Upon graduation, our students are equipped to succeed in America. The academy offers a trauma-informed, private school education to refugees, immigrants, and underprivileged youth, all from private funding, extending educational and extracurricular opportunities to equip them with the tools they need to make a difference in this world they were already having to navigate at a disadvantage. The academy grew from 5 girls in 2009 to 10 girls in 2011 and to 20 girls in 2012. Then, in 2013 we added five boys so that we could further our impact in.

The Nest has grown to 54 currently enrolled students and 18 first-generation graduates! Our students have come as far as Iraq, Zambia, Vietnam, Thailand, The Congo, Ethiopia, Mexico, Iraq, Malaysia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burma, Mali, Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Central African Republic, Cambodia and new to our Nest this fall, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. Our students are taught the academic skills required to succeed, graduate high school, and to pursue higher education. Our students are trained and empowered to become people of exceptional character, service and generosity. Graduating from the academy has changed the trajectory of the lives of our graduates. Our graduates are NOW first-generation college students and college graduates whose bright futures began at The Nest.

In 2023, we look back at our humble small beginnings, our progress over the past 14 years, and the great success of our amazing students. In 2023, we celebrate our 14 -year anniversary of opening our doors.

The Nest Academy is a school that reflects love, honors culture restores dignity, imparts wisdom and values, acceptance, diversity, and anticipation for the future. The Nest Academy welcomes and embraces Charlotte’s most vulnerable and very deserving children who find love, hope, and success within its Nest.

Years of Academic Excellence

Students Enrolled

First Generation Graduates

Volunteers Serve weekly



6824 Democracy Dr.

Charlotte NC, 28212

School Hours

Monday-Thursday: 7:45am - 3:00pm 

Friday : 7:45am - 12:00 pm

Weekends: Closed

Phone & Email

[email protected]