Our History

A Community Vision

Graphic from Original Graduate Profile

1991-92: Visioning Conferences

Community Learning Center Schools, Inc. came into being in 2006, but its story really began fifteen years earlier, when the Alameda Unified School District, in collaboration with accounting firm Arthur Andersen, held a series of community conferences to envision the future of public education. About 1,200 students, educators, and community members participated. They produced a "Graduate Profile" (pictured above) identifying the skills and qualities of their ideal 21st century high school graduate. Over the next four years, key conference attendees designed an educational model that would cultivate these skills and qualities.

Realizing the Vision

Old Photo of the Original ACLC Center

1996: A New Kind of School

The new educational model was put into action in 1996, when ACLC, then called the Arthur Andersen Community Learning Center, opened as an "incubator" for innovation within Alameda Unified. As envisioned by conference attendees, the new school offered self-directed and project-based learning in the context of democratic school institutions and a community-oriented culture. Rather than traditional classrooms, students and teachers (renamed "learners" and "facilitators"), occupied a large, purpose-built and technology-rich learning space known as "the Center" (pictured above).

1996-2007: Formative Years

As hoped, the new Learning Center proved fertile ground for learner and facilitator collaboration and creativity. Many school practices and traditions created by ACLC's early cohorts still thrive and grow at CLC Schools today.

The First ACLC Logo: School of Tomorrow


In 2001, ACLC became a district charter school so that its stakeholders could be more directly involved in its economic and educational decisions. Charter status allowed the school to seek its own grants, determine its own standards, and enact policies that met the needs of its unique learning environment. The first ACLC Governing Board included facilitators, parents, learners, community members and a school district representative.

2007: Excellence Recognized

In 2007, ACLC became the first charter school in Alameda to be named a California Distinguished School.

2006-2012: Expanding the Vision

With ACLC's success, the demand for enrollment soon exceeded capacity. Several members of ACLC's facilitator team began to envision a second school that would serve a wider and more diverse population of learners. Two concepts central to their vision were adapting the model to the elementary grades, and drawing on West African concepts, symbols and metaphors in shaping the culture of the new school.

The Nea Logo: A Ghanaian Adinkra Symbol

Nea's early school logo, with the adinkra symbol associated with its name
2009: Nea Opens Its Doors

As a result of their work, Nea Community Learning Center started serving grades K through 9 in 2009. From its founding, Nea emphasized the integration of science, technology, art, math and humanities across the curriculum. A central gathering place, known as "The Tree", provided the space and flexibility for this creativity to thrive. Nea's immediate success confirmed the community's desire for a research-based educational alternative, especially at the elementary level.

2012: Alameda's K-12 Charter School

Adding one grade level over each of the next three years, Nea became Alameda's first K-12 charter school in 2012. Its first graduating seniors were the Class of 2013.

2014-2018: Nea and ACLC Settle In to a New Home

In 2014, both ACLC and Nea were relocated from other Alameda school sites to their current shared home at 1900 3rd Street. With the Alameda Boys & Girls Club on site, and the College of Alameda just down the street, Nea and ACLC learners gained easy access to college classes and affordable aftercare services. In 2018, Nea added three classrooms, ACLC added two classrooms, and CLCS added administrative space to the site.

Managing and Supporting the Model

In 2006, Community Learning Center Schools, Inc. (CLCS), a 501(c)3 non-profit charter management organization, was created to provide management and support to both ACLC and Nea. This restructuring yielded improved stability and aided both schools in their transition to independent public charter schools, detached from the Alameda Unified School District.

CLCS is led by its Governing Board, which is composed of expert community members, dedicated parents, and passionate facilitator and learner representatives from each school, with administrative staff serving in advisory and informative roles. Each school continues to have its own local board composed of facilitators, parents, learners and community members, who are involved in important decisions including curriculum, budgeting, school policies, activities and culture.

Learn more about our organization

CLC Schools Need You!

From the original vision of the ideal Graduate Profile back in 1992 to decades of sustained growth and proven outcomes, CLCS and its stakeholders are proud to continue setting a New Standard in Education.

We invite you to bring your own expertise, energy or financial backing to our vital cause: improved educational opportunity for every child.

The quality and experience of an ACLC or Nea education makes it easy to forget that these are public charter schools. Graduates of CLC Schools consistently demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, a desire for lifelong learning, and a commitment to community betterment — key ingredients of a thriving culture and a democratic society.

We need your help to continue to develop this innovative, effective and proven educational model. Please help us grow by becoming part of our story!