History of IDEA Public Schools

How did it all begin?

IDEA Public Schools believes that each child can go to college. Since 2000, IDEA Public Schools has grown from a small school with 150 students to a network of tuition-free, K-12 public charter schools in the United States. Read on to learn more about our history beginning as an after-school program in 1998 in the Rio Grande Valley and where we stand today with 143 schools across Texas and its affiliates.


Our first school, IDEA Academy, was founded as an after-school program in Donna, Texas in 1998. It was created as a way to help combat some of the major educational deficiencies seen in the community, focusing the program on student achievement and college readiness.


IDEA is an acronym for “Individuals Dedicated to Excellence and Achievement”. The state of Texas granted a charter to IDEA in 2000. Beginning with only grades 4 to 8, the original flagship campus in Donna has since expanded into a full-scale K—12 campus today. 


IDEA Public Schools embarked upon an ambitious expansion plan in 2005, titled “The 2012 Plan,” with the goal of launching 22 IDEA schools across the Rio Grande Valley by the year 2012.


With the opening of 21 new campuses for the 2020-21 school year, IDEA served more than 63,000 students at 120 schools in 8 regions across Texas and Southern Louisiana.


IDEA educated nearly 70,000 students across Texas, Louisiana, and Florida on their journey to and through college.


IDEA opened schools in new regions that include: IDEA Cincinnati and IDEA Jacksonville. Currently, the network serves more than 80,000 college-bound students in 143 schools across Texas and its affiliates.


As a network, nearly 100% of IDEA’s graduates have been accepted to college for the past 16 years and 7,795 IDEA alumni have attended over 300 colleges.