Notes from a Founder

Our motivation to create the school came from a firmly held belief that the time had come to bring an innovative eye to public education in Chattanooga.  Along with our downtown, business sector, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the choice for us was clear: give every local Chattanooga girl an opportunity to make it to college and ultimately become a strong community member.

We looked at every model available – for-profit companies as well as school management organizations, and decided on a “stand alone” model for CGLA.  “Stand alone” means that CGLA relies on local leaders and donors exclusively for our leadership, growth, and development.  It means that every CGLA student looks no further than our region to realize their dream of public education.

With strong leaders at the helm – Dr. Elaine Swafford, Mr. Maryo Beck, and Mr. Ed Williams – we are working with our teachers and families to insure all of our students realize achievement.  Along with our Mustang Leadership Partners project, summer enrichment opportunities and college visits, we are committed to the use of innovative ideas to insure success for each of our students.



The Young Women’s Leadership Academy Foundation (YWLAF) is a 501c3 charity founded in 2007 to research the feasibility of a single-gender school directly impacting low-income, underserved minority girls in Hamilton County, Tennessee.

YWLAF has an impressive track-record.

  • In 2007, the foundation sponsored a year-long planning and engagement process to develop the CGLA model.
  • In August 2008, YWLAF became the first organization to secure approval from and negotiate a five-year public charter with the Hamilton County Department of Education AND to become the first single-gender public charter in Tennessee – the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA).
  • YWLAF secured a school facility, convened CGLA’s Governance Board, appointed school leadership, and developed a five-year fund development plan.
  • CGLA opened in July 2009 and enrolled an inaugural class of 75 sixth and ninth graders, adding two new grades each year as students have moved to the next grade.
  • CGLA currently serves 248 students in grades 6-12 and will grow to serve 350 students in grades 6-12 in the 2015-16 school year.

In July 2011, CGLA moved to a new facility at Tennessee Temple University in the Highland Park community of Chattanooga to support its innovative school design and enrollment growth plan of 350 students.  The new campus is more than double the size of CGLA’s prior facility and offers many new amenities: a school library, gym, chorus room, and spacious classrooms and science labs.

Donate By Check

To make a donation via check, please mail to:

P.O. Box 3837
Chattanooga, TN 37404

Please make checks payable to Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach her to learn by creating curiosity, she will continue the learning process as long as she lives.” – Clay P. Bedford

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