Academy at the Lakes

Client: Academy at the Lakes
Industry: Advocacy/Community/Non-Profits


Academy at the Lakes was founded in 1992 as an independent, co-educational, non-denominational college-preparatory school offering Pre-K through Grade 12 curriculums with an impressive 12:1 teacher/student ratio. The Pasco County school graduated its first class of seniors in 2002, and now has more than 300 alumni.

Boasting a “You Matter Here” philosophy positioned this Private Independent school with an English House-based educational program as a learning community of shared values dedicated to the success of everyone at the school, in the community, and in the world. The students, teachers, and staff celebrate the love of learning and the joy in the journey.

Being a young school in an emerging and quickly expanding suburban bedroom community in Land O’ Lakes, Florida, Academy wanted to evaluate itself among its peer group of independent private schools in the Tampa Bay region.

In addition, north Hillsborough County and Pasco County marketplace are still in a residential population growth mode. The overall messaging for the school was appropriate but the strategy to message and outreach into the market was broad. The Head of School and Board of Directors did an evaluation of its prior marketing and outreach activities in early 2019 and engaged HCP Associates to develop a comprehensive strategy to build community awareness through a refined niche marketing strategy and positioning thus improving the quality of enrollment inquiries.


HCP began with several leadership stakeholder meetings with the Head of School, staff, board members, admissions, development and various other constituents that serve as advisors and leaders. This allowed HCP leadership to evaluate the situation, do an analysis of the administration’s challenges, how the school was advertising in the community, the customer journey to book tours and become families of the school, determined the competitive landscape, refined how to target market affluent to a core marketplace and implemented support for and increase earned media. HCP maneuvered tactfully to respect the institutional pillars of this tightly knit prep school to ensure that courage, distinction, inclusion, integrity, and stewardship remained common denominators of a new mantra throughout numerous marketing mediums. The outcome was a detailed marketing strategy that included refined creative with core messages that spoke to the school’s mission, vision, and values, a more targeted media buying strategy, media relations, targeted social media ads, comprehensive Google campaigns, and community-based admissions outreach events.

Additionally, HCP’s creative services worked diligently to revamp an outdated website, direct marketing collateral, high-end photography, HD videos and an extensive paid digital campaign. The goal was to educate a region on a unique preparatory school that provided a “Different Way to Prep” for parents and students desiring a private school that was more about preparing a student for life as opposed to solely focusing on high-pressure academic achievements.

HCP continues the journey with Academy at the Lakes and works closely with leadership, faculty, staff, board of directors, students, and the entire network to promote a fresh balance of an elevated brand that embraces the joy in the journey – experiences that balance academics, fine arts, athletics, co-curricular activities, and life in general.