Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls
4836 Cascade Street
North Chesterfield VA 23234
Mission Statement

Our mission is:

  • to challenge girls to discover, learn, communicate and collaborate in a diverse innovative community.
 We nurture girls to be confident, resilient and self-aware leaders and innovators in their families and the community.
Web and Social Media

Multi-Media Comments
See our Facebook Page:
CEO/Executive Director Audrey D. Smith
Board Chair Marni Pilafian
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retire
Contact Information
Address 4836 Cascade Street
North Chesterfield, VA 23234
Telephone 804 774-9414
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2014
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $160,666.00
Projected Expenses $142,570.00
Additional Documents
Fundraising Policy2015View

Our mission is:

  • to challenge girls to discover, learn, communicate and collaborate in a diverse innovative community.
 We nurture girls to be confident, resilient and self-aware leaders and innovators in their families and the community.


  • We have operated a preschool and kindergarten for girls since 2014
  • We offer financial assistance to families who cannot afford private education.
  • Formed relationships with Better Housing Coalition, Winchester Green, Chester YMCA, Communities in Schools (Carver Career and College Academy) Chesterfield STAR program
  • To lease space in a facility with room to grow
  • To increase enrollment of tuition-paying students
  • To become an approved scholarship foundation with VDOE
  • To add three to five board members for 2016-17
  • To retain at least 95% of current donors
  • To host one fundraising event to net $30,000 by September 2016

Program Needs

  • Inform families, civic and community members and businesses that our school is an educational option for young girls. We will advertise through the use of social media, print materials, open houses and community events.
  • Raise funds to offer tuition assistance for qualifying students through a scholarship program. We offer extended day 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and our tuition is $800 per month for extended day. We sublease two classrooms from another child care center, and our maximum capacity is 22 students. Income from tuition at maximum capacity would be $132,000. We would like to offer tuition assistance to families based on need.
  • Raise funds to employ two teachers and executive director full time with one part-time employee.  Cost is $180,500.
  • Raise funds to lease three spaces from St. Barnabas Episcopal Church along with outdoor green space.
Professional Development
  • Raise funds to provide training and staff development on early childhood education, Reggio Emilia approach to learning, Gesell Institute assessments, and single gender education.  Cost is $3,000.
Founders of CIA for Girls worked for more than two decades in public schools in Chesterfield and Richmond. At the beginning of our careers, we observed girls showing leadership qualities in many academic and extracurricular activities. Over the years girls took less risks in answering math questions or investigating through science experiments. Many girls refused to dress out in physical education class or get their hands dirty when working in school gardens.  We watched as girls relinquished leadership roles in a co-ed environment.
Girls struggled with academics, behavior and collaboration even with these supports. Mentoring did not affect systematic change for all students early on. We observed improved attendance, less suspensions and improvement in reading scores for girls during the second year of the program.  We wondered if  a girl-centered environment would affect positive change in academics, social and emotional habits and how girls perceive themselves.  We investigated Orchard House School, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School and St. Catherine's in Richmond. We learned early childhood education and its impact on lifelong learning.
Mentors started a conversation about girls in public education in December 2012. Dr. Tommye Finley, Nathanael Rudney, Audrey Smith and Betty Walker agreed to incorporate a Virginia nonprofit corporation with the goal to operate an independent school for girls.  Our initial board meeting was in September 2013 at Beulah United Methodist Church.  
We opened the preschool in September 2014 with one class for three and four year olds.  
In September 2015 we added kindergarten, and we will add first grade September 2016. 
CEO Statement
We are the first school for girls in Chesterfield County, Virginia.  Our school is open to all girls in the Greater Richmond Metropolitan area. We have an intentional mission to fund private education for girls from emerging communities.
We are able to identify each girl’s strengths and challenges and make a plan to build their strengths and develop their challenges with the cooperation of the student and the parent.
We understand the connection social and emotional skills and self-regulation have to academic success. Girls use cognitive abilities to problem solve and self-regulation to help reach personal goals and to interact with her larger community.
Our teacher and staff know how to coach girls to try tasks that can cause frustration and lack of self-confidence. However through encouragement, identification of small successes, positive feedback and self-acknowledgement of steps toward achievement, the child is able to verbalize her need for assistance and independence.
Children planting gardens, investigating worms in the garden, feeding birds, or playing in a sandbox all enhance a child’s ability to grow, learn, and investigate the world around them. 
We supports girls from various cultures, backgrounds, economic levels and families.  The Reggio Emilia approach to learning stimulates girls to plan, create and work with others and work in an outdoor classroom that is an extension of the academic space.
We allow girls to grow at a pace that is developmentally appropriate and tailor instruction to individual needs and abilities.
We share resources and guidance with parents as they work with us to educate their girls.
Board Chair Statement

Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls, founded in 2014, was borne from a desire to take on a personal challenge by two public middle school teachers. They wanted to create a unique private school, within a diverse socio-economic sphere, to address the needs of girls at a younger age to meet their individual developmental challenges. They wanted to build the girls’ education from the ground up with attainable goals set within a creative framework, boosting their academic and social confidence by the time they arrive at middle school. If they could learn to believe they could achieve, they would succeed in middle school and high school with higher self-esteem and confidence to launch them into a constructive future.

Our teachers have identified unique talents, skills and abilities of each of the girls, along with challenges faced by each student. Challenges can be due to their personal circumstances, or challenges can be developmental; our teachers have created an individual cognitive and social environment to ensure that each student strives to overcome their personal challenges. Student-led problem-solving is the main focus of their creative learning process, using the Reggio Emilia curriculum from Italy. They choose to change their behaviors that conflict with reaching a goal. Through developmental coaching and positive feedback, students build the social and cognitive skills necessary to share their knowledge with the rest of their school community.

Our girls spend a lot of time outdoors, creating an ongoing sustainable vegetable garden and master the harvesting, winterizing, planting, preparation, and sharing of food on a daily basis to engage them in the importance of food and the challenge of healthy nutrition. Verbal expression, listening skills, and building a working vocabulary are challenges that are met with discovery and investigation: planting, investigating worms and spiders, feeding birds and building birdhouses, or making water balloons and sand houses all enhance a child’s ability to grow, learn, and investigate the world around them. Ideation, organizational development, communication skills, and positive emotive vocabulary building develop from creative play: organizing a restaurant started with food prep, design, and hiring the waitress; telling a student’s story evolved into student-directing their own theatrical production; inventing a love story grew into planning and performing the wedding ceremony; and building a pretend-bus in the middle of the classroom led to a field trip to Jupiter!

Like many young independent schools, our growing challenge is financial survival. Expenses include but are not limited to teacher and staff salaries, staff training, rental of the school building, and advertising for recruitment and enrollment. We have one full-time salaried teacher and one part-time salaried teacher and a part-time salaried executive director. We are raising funds to pay the second teacher and the executive director a full-time salary. The board of directors created a mission statement and a vision for the school’s future. The board works diligently to help support the school through community outreach, volunteering their time and talents to the students, networking to bring other volunteers into the school, and launching a fundraising mission. The board has instituted several steps toward financial growth and stability: it held a retreat to build a fundraising framework and learn fundraising strategies; each board member donated to the school annually; each shared both his or her personal monthly fundraising efforts and calls to prospective families to increase student enrollment. The board has also applied for grants and monetary donations via a community telethon and fashion show; donations of books, school furniture and equipment from other schools and educators; and monthly donations of snacks from food companies have all helped. Tuition has been low to help families in need. Increased enrollment may help to increase revenue.

The impact that Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls is having on our students is remarkable. Parents notice confidence in their daughters’ ability to grow forward, not just up: to discover, learn, communicate and collaborate in a diverse and innovative community.


Areas of Service
Areas Served
Metro Richmond
The  school is located in North Chesterfield.  We recruit families from the metro Richmond area with families from Chester, Chesterfield and Henrico.
Board Chair
Board Chair Marni Pilafian
Company Affiliation Retire
Term Sept 2015 to June 2017
Board of Directors
Board Members
Robert Brown Brown Financial Group
Adrienne Capollupo Turnkey Marketing Agency
Dr. Tommye R. Finley Chesterfield County Public Schools, Richmond Public Schools, Retired
Janet Moran J.D.Janet Moran, Attorney at Law
Marni Pilafian J.D.Community Volunteer
Bryce Robertson J.D.Dyer Law Firm
Audrey Smith Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls
Kindall Stevenson HomeAgain
Elizabeth Walker Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 5
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 4
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 2
Female 7
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 0
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
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
Board Governance
Distributions/ Grant Making
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
We have an opportunity to give educational options to parents with limited resources.  The main challenge is building capacity in terms of board governance, training those board members about those roles, and employing an executive director, at least part time.  
Executive Director
Executive Director Audrey D. Smith
The Director worked for 15 years as an educator in Chesterfield County Public Schools.  In addition to classroom instructor, she was Department Chair of Fine and Performing Arts (2007-2011), Secondary Lead Teacher, Teacher of the Year in 2005 and 2010 and served on various committees.  She served as Teacher Ambassador and grant coordinator for Partners in the Arts Grant, Mobile Technology Initiative and received a MCD award through the Chesterfield Public Education Foundation.  The director has a Master's of Educational Leadership (Administration and Supervision) degree.
The director was president of the Bethel Ensemble Chorale, a nonprofit community chorus, from 2001 to 2005.
Experience Executive Director with six years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Strong leadership background in project management to establish, direct and implement policies and activities of organization to ensure operations of business, funding and implementation of programs.
Full Time Staff 1
Volunteers 12
Contractors 1
Retention Rate 100
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? No
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
  • Better Housing Coalition, Winchester Greens, Nina Williams, Social Worker, is working to identify young girls who can benefit from an innovative means of instruction and whose families can commit to the school.  
  • CIA for Girls will donate a little free library to the Winchester Greens community, provide books and host three family reading nights as part of the Summer Reading program for students in Chesterfield County Public Schools.
  • Master gardeners from the Virginia Extension Office, Chesterfield County, work with girls monthly. 
  • Chester YMCA, Chris Hughes, Executive Director, will provide two parenting workshops in 2015-16.  We have committed to 40 hours of volunteer service with the Chester YMCA.
  • Chester United Methodist Church provided educational supplies during 2014-15, and we have requested their in-kind support for 2015-16.
  • Chester Lions Club provided eyeglasses for needy students.
  • Ellie Morris will provide monthly dance lessons.
  • Carter Anderson, owner, Save the Trash, will donate a Little Free Library, blocks, and create art and toys from from recycled materials.
  • Communities in School, Sherri Roccaforte, is a  partner in 2015-16 for the new College and Career Academy in Chesterfield.  Students will job shadow and volunteer at our school.
  • St. Barnabas Episcopal School
Description Preschool andPrekindergarten are designed for girls three to five years old. The Reggio Emilia approach to learning is inspired by the physical environment and leads to exploration, communication and collaboration in a child-centered learning community.

Girls create their own plan for learning, and teachers observe and guide children into deeper learning that interests them. Teachers integrate letters, numbers and language comprehension skills into all areas. Girls use tools and blocks to build structures in the classroom and to develop visual and spatial reasoning skills. Girls learn to communicate needs and wants and increase verbal skills to collaborate and negotiate with others.
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Budget $35,000.00
Short Term Success

By 18 weeks, girls will achieve skills 80% of the time:

  • Listen attentively to stories in a whole class setting 80% of the time
  • Follow simple one-and two-step oral directions
  • Use vocabulary to express feelings, needs and ideas
  • Identify and create simple rhymes
  • Write first name independently and correctly 80% of the time
  • Knows numbers 1-20 and counts backwards 5-1
  • Recognize and name geometric shapes
  • Describe and sort objects by color, shape, texture, feel, size
  • Describe what living things need to grow
  • Know full name, address, birthdate, age, names of parents, teachers, and school
  • Manage transitions, challenges and adapt to changes in routine
  • Recognize and respond to needs, rights, and emotions of others
  • Develop gross motor skills: jump, throw, skip, kick, hop, and run
  • Coordinate eye-hand and eye-foot movements
  • Students are able to rest and be quiet for 60 minutes daily.
Long Term Success
  • 100% of our students will graduate high school on time
  • 90-95% of students earn bachelor's degree
  • 80-85% of student  earn graduate degrees
  • 100% of students are registered voters
  • 100% of students volunteer, donate or support charitable, nonprofit  organizations
  • 100% of student mentor young girls in their community
  • 75-80% of students work in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, the arts or engineering
  • 50% or more of students are women entrepreneurs
  • 75 - 80% of students create or advocate for public policy that improves quality of life in their communities
  • 100% of students surveyed report the importance of early childhood development at CIA for Girls
  • 90% of students engage in physical activity 30-60 minutes daily
  • 100% of students recycle
  • 50-75% of students raise vegetables and/or purchase local produce from farmer's markets
  • 100% of educators have job satisfaction and career path
  • 100% of parents recommend our school
  • School partners with volunteers and community organizations
The academic focus for kindergarten is first language arts and mathematics.  Science, social science and the arts are integrated through thematic learning.
Instruction includes kindergarten standards for beginning readers and writers.   
Description Children create art in the Hundred Languages Studio, work in the outdoor classroom, and complete homework during after school.
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Budget $8,000.00
Short Term Success Parents will have the convenience of extended day on a weekly basis and during spring and winter break.
Long Term Success
The program is currently offered to students enrolled in our school.  Our ultimate success is to offer after school program to children from nearby public schools and to provide transportation.  Parents provide transportation, and we do not currently have transportation for children.
Description Children create art in the Hundred Languages Studio, work in the outdoor classroom, and complete homework during after school.
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Budget $8,000.00
Short Term Success Parents will have the convenience of extended day on a weekly basis and during spring and winter break.
Long Term Success
The program is currently offered to students enrolled in our school.  Our ultimate success is to offer after school program to children from nearby public schools and to provide transportation.  Parents provide transportation, and we do not currently have transportation for children.
CEO/ED/Board Comments

 Board Governance:

We are working to find members who can commit time and energy required at the start-up phase. We need board members to be personally engaged in fundraising and policy development for board governance.


Our school is currently located in the Dale District in Chesterfield County, Virginia. The residents and families in this area are familiar with free public education. Our job is to educate families about the long term benefits of small class sizes, individualized attention, and in-depth instruction .Our challenge is to create a diverse innovative learning community in a location that is accessible and open to all.


School transportation is a challenge. Our parents transport students to school. We do not want transportation to be a deterrent to a quality education. Four year olds in prekindergarten in Chesterfield ride the regular school bus that does not have seat belts.
NonProfit Management
Nonprofit management is vital to the health and growth of our corporation. Our Director has been accepted into the Nonprofit Studies program at University of Richmond and needs funds to attend. In the meantime, she will take specific courses through either Nonprofit Learning Point or Cameron Foundation.

Early Childhood Education

The research is overwhelming about the importance of quality child care and schools for early childhood education. Researchers at The Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, documented that many students are not ready for kindergarten in the area of self-regulation and social skills. Chesterfield County has a population of 4,000 four year olds and provides 500 slots for four year olds in kindergarten.


Poverty is a female issue according to 2010 census data. The quickest way to eradicate poverty is to educate a girl according to Girls Risings, a movement to improve girls education. 
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $160,666.00
Projected Expenses $142,570.00
Spending Policy Income Only
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$74,966$24,437--
Administration Expense$10,802$13,918--
Fundraising Expense--$1,763--
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.981.07--
Program Expense/Total Expenses87%61%--
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%5%--
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$1,466$4,177--
Current Assets$1,466$4,077--
Long-Term Liabilities$0----
Current Liabilities$3,546$1,220--
Total Net Assets($2,080)$2,957--
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities0.413.34--
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%--
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 11/2016View
Foundation Comments
  • Received tax-exempt status in 2014.
  • Financial analysis performed with financial statements prepared internally by the organization.