Meet Why Not You Academy: Des Moines’ New Public Charter School

Aug 26, 2021 | Launching Schools, School Highlights, Updates

“We’ve always held the belief that life’s successes start with a good education, but recognize that access isn’t always created equally for all. This school is a longtime dream of ours and it was important for us to find a way to combine traditional classroom learning with community and mentorship-based activities, in order to prepare kids for the real world. Why Not You is based on the idea that it can start with one and our hope is that this school will be the first of many.” – Russell Wilson

“I’m noticing a lot of change in South Seattle when we focus on supporting kids. When we give them the tools they need, they take those home and practice with their family. This is how change happens.” – Halma Abubaker, Director of Operations

Already deeply connected to the community, Why Not You Academy (WNYA), a soon-to-launch charter public high school in Des Moines, WA, has demonstrated its commitment to student and family success before even opening its doors.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, WNYA (formerly called Cascade Midway Academy), had to stall its opening plans by a year. Even still, the school coordinated with families to support enrolled scholars while they participated in virtual learning at other schools. This included checking in on family wellness, scholar mental health, and offering quiet learning spaces on a limited basis for those who needed additional supports.

Why Not You Academy focuses on building achievement, community, and empowerment for its scholars through personalized learning plans blended with practical skill building with real-world internships. Scholars learn to think critically, communicate effectively and work collaboratively to solve the challenges in their community and thrive in a fast-moving global economy.

With a web of support from caring mentors, school leaders and teachers to success-focused peers and comprehensive family engagement, scholars will find themselves in an academic setting that helps them thrive as individuals and as learners. This includes a Family Advisory Council, to honor family knowledge and contributions by helping to identify needs, answer questions, offer input and provide feedback on school goals and initiatives.

Founded by Garth Reeves and Scott Canfield, with support from Russell Wilson and Ciara’s Why Not You Foundation, Why Not You Academy is a place where scholars are known, seen, and valued.

Why Not You Academy opens its doors on September 1st for the first day of school in a brand-new learning space. The school currently has a waitlist for 9th grade for the Fall of 2021. It will grow to serve grades 9 – 12.


22419 Pacific Highway South #3, Des Moines, WA 98198


For enrollment: Halma Abubakar at

For media inquiries: Scott Canfield at