Strategic Grant Partners


Strategic Grant Partners, a foundation whose mission is to partner with leaders who have revolutionary ideas that seek to improve the lives of under-pressure individuals and families, helped  fund the UP Academy so that it could pursue opening the first in-district charter school in Boston.

The approval of the transformation from Gavin Middle School in South Boston to the UP Academy was crucially important to education reform. The initiative was opposed, however, by the Boston Teachers Union (BTU).

The BTU launched intensive attacks on the proposal and BTU officials make it clear that blocking the first of these transformations was a high priority.

Concerned about the opposition, UP Academy and Strategic Grant Partners sought the assistance and expertise of O’Neill and Associates.


Working closely with Scott Given of Strategic Grant Partners, O’Neill and Associates proactively countered the messages being disseminated by the union on self-selection and “creaming,” and highlighted the best methods to handle special-needs challenges and the selection of non-profit organization to run the UP Academy.

In order to combat the derailing of the bid, O’Neill and Associates engaged with leadership in the executive branches, in the Massachusetts House and Senate, and the Commonwealth’s oversight agencies, and worked closely with the client’s legal team.


UP Academy and Strategic Grant Partners were granted the charter, and UP Academy became one of the first in-district charter schools in Boston, and one of the first in Massachusetts.  Currently, UP Academy is open to all public school students. UP Academy has been successful in re-enrolling the vast majority of students who attended what used to be Gavin Middle School in South Boston.