BELIEVE St. Louis Academy: Opening New Paths for Educational Excellence in Health Sciences and Beyond

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Meet the Visionary Leaders of BSTLA

Kimberly Neal-Brannum
Founder and CEO

Hometown: St. Louis
Highschool: Metro Academic and Classical Academy (SLPS)
Alma Mater(s): Alabama A&M University (B.A. Psychology), Washington University (MSW), Columbia University (M.Ed)

Personal MissionI want to help my community create generational wealth, as an educator I know this starts with closing the education achievement gap and providing students that look like me access and exposure to opportunities that will change the trajectory of their lives. As a Metro High School alumna, I had some of those opportunities and I BELIEVE all students should have access to that level of education and opportunity.


Jawn Manning
Founding Principal Resident

Hometown: St. Louis
Highschool: Rosati-Kain High School
Alma Mater(s): Xavier University of New Orleans (B.A. History Pre-Med), Tulane University (MS, Medical Genetics and Genomics)

Personal Mission: I grew up in a home that valued education so much that my parents moved to a community where they thought I would receive a high-quality education. When those schools weren’t able to meet the expectations of quality, my parents sacrificed to send me to a private school. I want to create a school that will deliver high quality for families that won’t need to go into debt to afford private schools and for kids like me who didn’t have access to the limited magnet school seats available.


Dr. Paris Woods
Board Chair

Hometown: St. Louis
Highschool: Metro Academic and Classical Academy (SLPS)
Alma Mater(s): Harvard University (B.A. African American Studies; Educational Inequality); University of Texas at Austin (Ed.d Higher Education Leadership)

Personal Mission: I feel really lucky to have gotten the opportunities that I had. And I think it shouldn’t have to take luck. My mission has been about paving a pathway to make it easier for young people to gain access to education, to careers, and economic opportunity.


BELIEVE St. Louis Academy Mission to develop students into leaders through cultivating a community that fosters their agency, autonomy, and acceleration— providing a foundation for future independence and success.

BELIEVE St. Louis Academy (BSTLA) is an open enrollment, tuition-free,  public college, and career preparatory high school dedicated to the achievement of students in the St. Louis City area.


Go Deeper:

What High School Did You Go To?

Let’s take a look at the dynamic educational landscape of St. Louis City high schools. According to 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data, the city educates 10,792 high school students distributed across magnet (44%), traditional district (25%), and charter schools (31%).

The current high school graduation rate stands at 75%, with 45% of graduates opting for college. Notably, only 16 students acquired industry-recognized healthcare credentials in 2022, indicating a gap in graduates accessing vital middle-skill pathways.

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), in 2018,  79.8% of students enrolled in public schools in St. Louis City identified as Black, while only 13% identified as White. 

This data highlights the complexity of the educational landscape in St. Louis City, where issues of access, representation, and equity are at the forefront.

So, where do we go from here?

BELIEVE St. Louis Academy has a proven model that focuses on educating students from under-estimated, majority communities of color, similar to St. Louis. The model is designed to provide these students with opportunities for a rigorous curriculum that will prepare them for college and/or industry-recognized certifications to obtain higher-paying careers after high school.

This model achieves a few things like reducing overall student debt, increasing graduates’ eligibility to earn a living wage, and preparing students to enroll in post-secondary institutions to further their education and career opportunities. 

“As a St. Louis native, I am filled with gratitude and excitement to begin the journey of BELIEVE in St. Louis, I am excited to come home and work with this community to unleash the possibilities that exist within our children.”  Jawn Manning, Resident Principal of BELIEVE St. Louis  Academy


BELIEVE St. Louis Academy will open with a proven model that emphasizes rigorous academics, dual enrollment, and holistic student support. In 2020, BELIEVE Schools Circle City was founded in Indianapolis. That founding campus now ranks second regionally in SAT scores, with 85% of upperclassmen engaged in dual enrollment, showcasing the model’s efficacy.

BSTLA Academic Approach: BSTLA ensures tailored education, offering remediation for those below grade level and advanced coursework for those above. The curriculum includes dual enrollment options, AP courses, and robust support services in math, reading, and writing. Beyond academics, a focus on social, emotional, and mental health guarantees students’ overall well-being.

BSTLA Graduate Profile: A BELIEVE graduate embodies independence, informed citizenship, academic preparedness, financial literacy, and holistic health—a comprehensive approach ensuring readiness for the 21st-century challenges.

BSTLA Partnerships: Strategic partnerships with BJC and St. Louis Community College pave the way for industry certifications in healthcare. Testimonials from community members at the BELIEVE St. Louis Academy public hearing underscore the demand for qualified healthcare professionals, especially in middle-skill positions.

“And I can tell you that there is tremendous demand for children to aspire to healthcare careers. And there’s a lot of opportunity at Barnes Jewish Goldfarb School of Nursing. There’s endless opportunities for our young people to succeed.” – Terri Morris, DNP, ANP-BC, BJC Goldfarb School of Nursing speaking at the BELIEVE St. Louis Academy public hearing July 2023.


These collaborations aim to bridge gaps in workforce needs and foster equity in healthcare, addressing underrepresentation of Black/African American individuals in the medical field.

BELIEVE St. Louis Academy, under the leadership of Resident Principal Jawn Manning, offers a transformative educational model to meet the unique challenges faced by St. Louis City’s high school students. The proposed academy is poised to make significant strides in academic excellence, workforce readiness, and equity in healthcare, aligning with the pressing needs of the St. Louis community.


Learn more about BELIEVE St. Louis Academy and follow their journey  at or on instagram

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