Established 2​016


Ribbon cutting
Boy Scouts
National anthem
Owen Hill
John Suthers
Deann Barnett

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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony BLPA

Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy Opens, Provides First Charter High School Option in District 49

After a long journey full of planning, community support, securing financing, and construction, the doors to Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy officially opened during a ribbon cutting event Aug. 4.

"We've got a beautiful building here," said Todd Morse, BLA head of school, "but really it's the people inside this building that are going to be meeting the needs of those we serve."

"They are absolutely committed to putting kids first."

Hundreds of students, parents, community members and staff sat in bleachers and stood along the walls during the Friday afternoon event in the school's gymnasium. Activities included a ribbon cutting, tours, singing of the school song and comments from civic and governmental leaders.

"May we see another generation prepared and excited for the challenges of the 21st century," said Colorado Senator Owen Hill, district 10, during the ceremony. "Our communities, our family, our education is one of the most important things we can invest in."

The new school will eventually serve 1050 students in grades 6-12. BLPA is the first charter high school option to be available in the District 49 portfolio of schools.

"Today we cut the ribbon on another excellent educational option for Colorado Springs students," said City of Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. "Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy is our newest charter high school augmenting an already strong school system."

"Folks, you've done a great job. Thanks to all of you and congratulations."

Some speakers took the time to remark on the journey to secure financing for the project and expand on the educational opportunities already offered at Banning Lewis Ranch Academy, previously serving students in grades K-8. BLRA will now serve elementary students with secondary students attending BLPA.

"We were told so many times how hard it is to start a school, and the failure rates of those schools," said Barnett. "But we weren't a new school, we were Banning Lewis Ranch Academy. Our founding fathers had laid that foundation for us and we just needed to build upon it."

"I want to thank everybody that has had a hand in this project," said Deann Barnett, Banning Lewis Academy board president. "When you have a project this big, there are many hands that need to help."

Our Mission and Vision 


The Mission of the Banning Lewis Ranch Academy Foundation is to support the mission and vision of  Banning Lewis Academy K-12, including Banning Lewis Ranch Academy and Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy, through fundraising and programs designed to support the entire school community.

Community. BLRAF fosters a sense of community by creating a respected, influential, local, regional, and national network.

  • Foster relationships within the school community, between teachers, staff and families
  • Build collaboration between the school and the larger educational community, including other charter schools, public schools (elementary, middle and high school), as well as colleges and universities.
  • Gain and leverage partnerships with the local non-profit community

FundraisingBLRAF seeks to help raise capital and sustain the financial well being of Banning Lewis Academy K-12 through fundraising and other generating projects.

Enrichment. BLRAF will collaborate with the schools administration, staff and teachers to help Banning Lewis Academy K-12 enrich the curriculum through planning and helping to fund:

  • Field Trips
  • In-school enrichment programs
  • After school class and club opportunities
  • Scholarships for academic excellence
  • Talent acquisition and professional development for staff

Support. BLRAF will support all members of Banning Lewis Academy K-12 community, finding opportunities for services, leveraging resources, building partnerships, and growing awareness. The students and staff will have the knowledge, skills, character and habits needed to succeed in our educational system and beyond.


The Vision of the Banning Lewis Ranch Academy Foundation is to financially support creative, innovative and sustainable programs for academics; extra-curricular activities and programming that will enrich and enhance education.

Our Charter Academies 


Banning Lewis Ranch Academy K-8

 Banning Lewis Academy K-12

Banning Lewis Academy is a tuition-free, public charter schools located in Colorado Springs, CO. Currently serving 800 students in grades K-8, Banning Lewis Ranch Academy is a neighborhood school nestled in the Banning Lewis Ranch housing development on Cottonwood Tree Drive. 

In Fall 2017, Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy will open a state-of-the-art campus in the same community to serve grades 6-9, and will offer grades 6-12 by Fall 2020. The original Banning Lewis Ranch Academy which opened in 2006 will serve grades K-5. Banning Lewis Academy K-12 is authorized by the Falcon 49 school district and managed by ACCEL Schools. 


Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy  9-12

Banning Lewis Academy K-12 offer students a world-class, college prep education through a blend of core curriculum and specialized programs. Spanish, art, technology, and physical education instruction are included in the regular school day for all students. Additionally, the academy offers extra-curricular athletic programs, including: basketball, football, cheerleading, softball, track and field, volleyball, and cross-country. To learn more about Banning Lewis Academy, visit

BLRA Foundation

Our Foundation 

Schools are faced with increasing demands and diminishing resources.  Our foundation is designed to augment, supplement, and complement programs and activities being delivered by Banning Lewis Academy K-12.

Heather Atencio Colorado Springs

Our Staff 

Our Leadership

Heather Zambrano is the Executive Director for the Banning Lewis Ranch Academy Foundation, located in Colorado Springs. Prior to joining the foundation, she was the Vice President of the Banning Lewis Ranch Academy School Board while running a successful business in the community. Heather also has over 8 years of financial corporate experience many of those spent various leadership positions with in the organization including managing the operations training team. She has a B.A. in Psychology and received teaching credentials for elementary education.    

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