About us

 the nest academy is a faith based, small private school with a vision to change the lives of our refugee, Immigrant and under privileged students to become confident, educated, and successful first generation high school graduates. 


Educate, enrich, empower.


Scholarships granted

Lunches served

The Nest Academy was founded by Mary Catherine (MC) Hildreth in 2009. While homeschooling her three children and directing a nonprofit for refugee youth in the East Charlotte area, MC was heading an after school tutoring program for K-12 grade refugees 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 and she was deeply troubled that these children were truly slipping through cracks in the educational system. They were struggling 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 determination to believe it was possible to make a difference, and began a 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, unable to read and write, who were hopeless,  unwilling and unable to succeed.




The charge was simple. EDUCATE, ENRICH and EMPOWER them through education, a sense of COMMUNITY with LOVE and RESPECT and to encourage them to become confident, educated, accomplished, giving and successful first generation refugee high school graduates. WE HAVE SEEN GREAT SUCCESS!  The academy is UNIQUE, it is OUT OF THE BOX and unprecedented. We have created a custom learning environment that is multi age, multi grade 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, 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 ‘gifted’, tuition-free, faith based, private school education to these 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 the addition of 5 boys in 2013, when our PRAYERS became LOUDER and MORE FREQUENT!!!  Our Nest has grown to 27 currently enrolled students and a total of 10 first generation graduates!!! Our students have come as far as Vietnam, Thailand, Congo, Ethiopia, Mexico, Iraq, Malaysia, Uganda, Mali, Argentina, El Salvador, and Cambodia. Our students are taught the academic skills required to succeed, graduate high school and to pursue higher education. Our students are being 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 2020, we look back at our humble small beginnings, our progress over the past 11 years and the great success of our amazing students. In 2019, we celebrated our TENTH anniversary of opening our doors. The Nest Academy is a school that reflects love, values, acceptance, diversity and anticipation for the future.

our vision

The Nest Academy’s vision is to change the lives of our refugee, immigrant and under privileged students to overcome educational barriers and obstacles in an environment that gives them great hope, love, and acceptance. We instill faith and confidence to achieve excellence 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 began making a difference in the lives of 5 refugee girls, alleviating the barriers, obstacles and pressures of public school, and whose circumstances had stunted their academic success and were falling behind due to unmet individual needs. The academy grew from 5 girls in 2009 to 10 girls in 2011, and to 20 girls in 2012, and the addition of 5 boys in 2013. In 2020, we graduated our 10th first generation senior.

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We would love to chat with you about how you can get plugged in at the The Nest Academy. We have so many opportunities of you to connect our Nest.

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