Northstar Academy, Inc.
8055 Shrader Road
Henrico VA 23294
Mission Statement

At Northstar Academy, we promote educational excellence and career opportunities for students with disabilities who have academic, physical or socal challenges. 

CEO/Executive Director Crystal Trent
Board Chair Mrs. Annie Witthoefft
Board Chair Company Affiliation Bank of America
Contact Information
Address 8055 Shrader Road
Henrico, VA 23294
Telephone 804 747-1003
Fax 804 747-1116
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1998
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $2,825,692.00
Projected Expenses $2,697,194.00
Additional Documents

On behalf of all of us at Northstar Academy, I am most grateful for the wonderful support of our donor community - parents, faculty/staff, grandparents, board members, friends, foundations and corporations. Gifts from our generous donors enable us to open our doors each day to continue our mission to provide educational excellence and career opportunities for our students who have academic physical or social challenges. Each and every donation makes a positive impact here at Northstar. As we move forward, we are excited about our next steps and your gifts equip us with the power to achieve our dreams and the dreams of our students and their families. 

Dr. Patricia “Pat” West, Head of School


At Northstar Academy, we promote educational excellence and career opportunities for students with disabilities who have academic, physical or socal challenges. 


Northstar Academy is a unique and highly successful non-profit school serving children with disabilities in grades K – 12.  With a strong spirit of community, we develop students with active, creative minds and encourage compassion and a respect and understanding for individual differences and for one another. We present our community of learners with a challenging educational environment, inspiring confident students who are willing to take intellectual risks and meet academic challenges with openness, enthusiasm, a willingness to solve problems and to make thoughtful decisions. Ultimately, we create an atmosphere that addresses the unique needs of our students in a changing society and culminates with their becoming active citizens and responsible stewards of our world.

Financial Assistance & Admissions

Our area of greatest need is our unrestricted annual fund – operations. Gifts to our annual fund enable us to bridge the gap between the cost of tuition and the actual price to educate a child. Simply said, gifts to our Annual Fund enable us to keep our doors open. Other needs include scholarship. Unfortunately, we are not able to meet all of the demonstrated financial need and additional scholarship support would enable students to attend Northstar who would otherwise be unable to attend. We offer financial assistance to our amazing faculty and encourage them to further their education. Donations to faculty professional development would enable them to pursue additional professional development. As we focus on our Strategic Plan, we are planning for an upcoming Capital Campaign. We have received a most generous donation which serves as our first major gift towards this campaign and we welcome additional gifts in this effort. We are most grateful to our wonderful band of volunteers and welcome more! As our Career Academy grows, more community partnerships are needed for our job shadowing and internships and we are always looking for folks to help connect us with others in the community. Our needs cover a wide range and we are most grateful for all of our community support!


Northstar Academy was established in 1996 when local parents and professionals grew concerned about the lack of educational opportunities available for children with disabilities and special needs.  Parents with nowhere to turn wanted a school that could serve children with a range of disabilities in a way that worked best for each child. 

Northstar serves 12 of the 13 disability categories as identified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Therefore, we serve a diverse population with a wide range of ability levels. Some of the disability categories we serve are: Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Specific Learning Disability, and Developmental Delay.

In 1996, Northstar was licensed to serve students 1st through 12th grade. That first year, Northstar served 14 students. Northstar now serves 90-100 full time students, kindergarten through 12th grade. In 2014, Northstar launched Northstar Career Academy, a part-day school offering vocational/technical courses to students’ ages 16-22. Northstar has also expanded its offerings to include summer school, summer enrichment courses and an extended day program.

Northstar serves students who are parentally placed and students who are placed by public school systems. Northstar serves students who reside throughout Central Virginia. Northstar currently partners with 16 public school systems across Virginia but develops new partnerships as school systems reach out for educational services. Rolling admissions is offered throughout the school year. Our student/teacher ratio is 5:1 in lower school and 8:1 in middle and upper school.

Through the years, Northstar Academy has expanded its use of research-based curricula and programs in order to meet the changing needs of our students and to develop the skills needed for the 21st century. Lindamood-Bell reading and math, social skills, technology integration, virtual learning courses, and customized transition programs provide our students opportunities to maximize their potential and to prepare them to be active citizens and contributing members of society. 


CEO Statement

It is an exciting time at Northstar as we build our capacity to serve more students by adding programs, and reflecting on the strengths of our current program and how we can improve our outcomes.

When our Career Academy launched; we offered four courses: Materials Handling, Health Occupations, Business Administration/IT, and Construction and Maintenance. Students received employment social skills instruction along with instruction in one of the four courses. An integral component of each course was the job shadowing opportunity that allowed students to observe and apply learned skills. Our Career Academy matches students’ abilities, interests and skills with real needs in the workplace thus helping them to become contributing members of their community.

As I reflect on our past achievements and current goals, I feel confident that we are providing an excellent educational experience for students who struggle with academic, physical or social challenges. Families often describe their decision to come to Northstar as transformational. A few years ago, a past parent shared her son’s story: “My son hated school before coming to Northstar. He felt powerless, with absolutely no control over his life. But, he quickly became comfortable with the unique Northstar dynamic that combines disabilities, intelligence, humor and talent, all in one. I never before witnessed such a diverse, non-judgmental group of kids who support and accept one another, and we are very grateful to have found Northstar.

Every student who crosses our door step comes here for a reason. Each student becomes part of our family. We work together to help each student have their own personal success and feel confident in their abilities. As a team, we weave a tapestry that represents each student, family and teacher, creating a community devoted to ensuring that each student reaches their goals and aspirations – whatever they may be.

As we go forward we will continue to provide a warm, welcoming environment where students are accepted and celebrated for who they are.

Dr. Patricia “Pat” West

Areas of Service
Areas Served
Metro Richmond
Tri-cities Region
Richmond, City
Chesterfield County
Colonial Heights, City
Dinwiddie County
Goochland County
Hanover County
Henrico County
Powhatan County
Charles City County
Gloucester County
King and Queen County
Louisa County
New Kent County
Amelia County
Prince George County
Westmoreland County
Essex County

Northstar Academy serves students across Central Virginia.  Fifty percent of Northstar students are placed thorough public school systems.  The counties listed represent former or current school system partnerships.  We endeavor to add more partnerships and to expand our footprint.  Metro Richmond, Tri-cities Region, Richmond City, Central Virginia, Brunswick, Caroline, Charles City, Chester, Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights, City, Dinwiddie County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Goochland County, Hanover County, Henrico County, King William County, Powhatan County, Louisa County, New Kent County, Prince George County, and Prince Edward County.

Board Chair
Board Chair Mrs. Annie Witthoefft
Company Affiliation Bank of America
Term July 2017 to June 2020
Board CoChair
Board CoChair Mr. Ben Winters
Company Affiliation Winters-Oliver Insurance Agency
Term July 2017 to June 2020
Board of Directors
Board Members
Mr. Phillip Avant SunTrust Bank
Mrs. Lile Benaicha Troutman, Sanders LLP
Dr. Richard Bennett Dr. Lillie R. Bennett MD, LTD.
Ms. Katie M. Botha Special Olympics Virginia, Inc.
Ms. Shannon Carter Equity Concepts, LLC
Mr. William Charlet Community Volunteer
Mr. Lemuel Doss IIICommunity Volunteer
Mr. Peter Eliades Community Volunteer
Mr. F. Robert Hershey Community Volunteer
Mrs. Annie Kapetanis St. Catherine's School
Dr. Rhoda Mahoney Pediatrics Associates of Richmond
Mr. J. Russell Parker IIIParker-Orleans, Inc., Retired
Ms. Jennifer Quindoza Community Volunteer
Mr. Tom Walker Walker Realty
Ms. Vicki Warren Community Volunteer
Mr. Ben Winters, CIC Winters-Oliver Insurance Agency
Mrs. Annie Witthoefft Bank of America
Mr. Watson Wright Community Volunteer
Mr. John Wyatt Willis North America
Mrs. Suzanne Yount SP Yount Financial, LLC
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 17
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 10
Female 9
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 80
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Program / Program Planning
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Crystal Trent
Former CEOs
Candace H. David June 1997 - Dec 2004
Senior Staff
Cindy Culley Director of Admissions/Assistant Head of School
Full Time Staff 36
Part Time Staff 4
Volunteers 90
Contractors 22
Retention Rate 85
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 4
Date Strategic Plan Adopted June 2015
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes

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Richmond SPCA

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Walter Jara Painting

Westhampton Day Care


Here at Northstar, we understand that the world of school is not just about learning academic skills.  In order to be successful in school and in life, students need good social skills.  A trademark program of Northstar is our signature social skills program which created in collaboration with the Kluge Rehabilitation Center. It is a customized program that equips our population to establish positive relationships and to be successful members of our communities.  Social skill interventions are rooted in assessing students’ executive functioning abilities – both behavior regulation and meta-cognitive development.  These executive functions form the basis of how students approach social situations and solve interpersonal issues.


Northstar Career Academy offers career/technical education courses to include: Business Administration, Materials Handling, Health Occupations, and Construction and Maintenance, Veterinary Assisting, Hospitality, and Machining. Students have the opportunity to take our part-day courses while in high school, in college, while home-schooling, or as a post-secondary training option.

The cornerstone of our approach is grounding skills instruction with on-the-job experiences. Weekly job shadowing and/or internship opportunities are embedded in each course.

Our curriculum focuses on skills critical to success in each given field with consideration for our students’ special learning needs. We differentiate instruction with consideration for learning strengths, pacing needs, and employment goals. Students have the opportunity to earn industry certification and Career Readiness Certificates.

Technical skills are taught with an emphasis on social skills in the workplace. Students learn about professionalism, communication, problem-solving, and self-management.

The culmination of this approach is a student well-equipped to face the demands of changing workplaces in a dynamic economy with work experience, a local network of professional contacts, and the self-advocacy skills necessary to obtain employment.


Extra Curricular:  In order to provide a whole school experience, Northstar offers a variety of extracurricular activities to its students including sports, cheer leading, talent shows, art shows, choir, dances and prom. Seniors are recognized at Homecoming, Baccalaureate and graduation each year.  Our annual homecoming event is an opportunity for students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff to celebrate their Northstar experience.


Understanding the link between neuroscience research and learning and achievement and using our in-depth knowledge of the brain and its fascinating complexities, our faculty integrates teaching strategies that encourage our students to take intellectual risks that inspire their passion for learning, ultimately preparing them to discover their individual paths to success. We are leaders in our field in using this highly effective neurological research-based program which develops the sensory-cognitive functions that form the foundation for learning, and we are one of the few schools in the Richmond Region currently offering this program during the school year.


Our innovative, arts-infused curriculum provides the opportunity for our students to demonstrate self-expression and understanding, highlighting their abilities and unique, creative perspectives. From our cross-curricular annual arts theme that defines each school year to our Spring Living Gallery project and Arts Festival, our art program inspires creativity, self-expression and learning.

CEO/ED/Board Comments

Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $2,825,692.00
Projected Expenses $2,697,194.00
Spending Policy N/A
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions$702,346$311,437$355,795
Investment Income, Net of Losses$5,687$7,921$2,722
Membership Dues------
Special Events$111,191$45,632$88,202
Revenue In-Kind$15,139$29,501--
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$2,217,743$2,008,058$1,570,373
Administration Expense$270,275$258,658$450,119
Fundraising Expense$208,676$208,502$179,279
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.220.991.08
Program Expense/Total Expenses82%81%71%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue26%58%40%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$3,359,578$2,720,570$2,730,506
Current Assets$1,950,210$1,330,877$1,357,132
Long-Term Liabilities$87,643$107,994$147,318
Current Liabilities$435,776$373,766$323,477
Total Net Assets$2,836,159$2,238,810$2,259,711
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities4.483.564.20
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets3%4%5%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 11/2016View
Foundation Comments
  • Form 990 and audit prepared by Lane & Associates, P.C.
  • Financial information provided by audit