Sponsored content: Academy Prep creates Tampa Bay's community leaders with dedication, chess, and local relationships

Published Feb. 8, 2018

Each morning at 7:30 a.m., Lincoln Tamayo stands at the entrance to his school and welcomes each student with a warm smile and a handshake. Mr. Tamayo is the Head of School for Academy Prep Center of Tampa, a rigorous, private middle school serving underprivileged students across the fifth to eighth grades. Academy Prep Center students attend school 11 hours a day, 6 days a week, 11 months a year; academic classes are taught separately by gender; and all students are required to take at least one chess class per week throughout their time at the school. The curriculum may seem intense, but the results are nothing less than extraordinary.

In an area of Tampa where the majority of adults do not have a high school diploma, 96 percent of Academy Prep Center graduates have graduated from high school. Of that number, 84 percent are in college and 10 percent have joined a branch of the Armed Forces. The incorporation of a weekly chess class, originally intended to teach strategy and critical thinking skills, has resulted in a nationally ranked chess team that won the state title at the Florida Scholastic Chess League (FSCL) Super Championship. Academy Prep Center is setting a new standard for building a community, and the individuals who will one day become its leaders.

Academy Prep Center's results are inspiring, but are only possible when business leaders seek out opportunities to give back to their community. One example of this proactive approach is a recent inquiry to Academy Prep Center by USAmeriBank. Instead of making a standard corporate donation, USAmeriBank contacted Academy Prep and asked what the school needed to continue building community leaders. The reply was just as simple as the ask – outdoor chess equipment that will help us to continue building our nationally ranked team.

Executives from USAmeriBank recently visited Academy Prep to deliver the requested equipment including tables, chess boards, and set pieces. They were joined by leaders of Valley National Bank, with whom they have announced a pending merger. Valley National Bank was so inspired by the impact of the relationship, they created a formal "Pop-Up Moments" program, where the bank would provide community organizations with needed supplies. The program has been specifically designed to strengthen local relationships and increase community impact.

In this age of electronic communication, there is a tendency to forget that we are all dependent on local relationships and the strength of our community. The efforts of Mr. Tamayo, USAmeriBank, and Valley National Bank are a simple reminder that the right relationships can make significant impact for your family or your business.

For more information about Academy Prep Center of Tampa, you can contact Maggie McCleland, Director of Development, at or 813-248-5600, ext 1138.

To learn about how USAmeriBank / Valley National Bank can help you with your financial needs, contact them at,, or 1-800-500-1044.