Joy, hope and transformative change for the “Whole Child. Whole Family. Whole Community.”

Learn how an education center is making a difference in the lives of students and their families in Atlanta.

As part of our pledge to the Black community, Raymond James committed $1.5 million to support racial equality, financial literacy and empowerment, and volunteerism opportunities across the United States. The firm selected organizations across 10 U.S. markets to receive funding from the pledge – among them, Peace Preparatory Academy (Peace Prep) in Atlanta, Georgia.

About Peace Prep

Located on the west side of Atlanta, Peace Prep is a learning environment founded in 2015 that supports the whole community. The foundational belief behind Peace Prep involves supporting children, their families and the wider community – all of which form integral components of a much larger ecosystem.

Benjamin Wills, the founder and head of the school, chose “peace” as the focal point because of its relation to the word “shalom” – signifying wholeness, welfare and prosperity. Peace Prep is focused on delivering growth and providing change opportunities to underresourced and underserved communities through a high-quality learning environment.

peace prep

Today, the academy supports children from pre-kindergarten through seventh grade, provides after-school programs that include a third meal of the day, and makes safe, quality and dignified housing available for families right across the neighborhood with the support of their partner nonprofit, oaksATL.

The collective of individuals who help make Peace Prep happen share a rich understanding of the neighborhoods they serve, giving a depth of context to the work. It’s a passion-driven approach that has helped sow the seeds of real, meaningful change for people across the local area.

Peace Prep and Raymond James

At Raymond James, our vision is to be a financial services firm as unique as the people we serve, transforming lives, businesses and communities through the power of relationships. Our firm’s values and guiding principle of putting people – and their needs – first align with that of Peace Prep’s.

The senior managing director and chief operating officer of Investment Banking at Raymond James, Steve Hufford, is a proud board member for Peace Prep and a driving force behind firmwide involvement at Raymond James. Talking about the restorative and transformative impact Peace Prep has had in communities on the west side of Atlanta, Hufford said, “Peace Prep has created an inflection point for the whole community. When you stand and look at the academy, you see a concrete circle of transformation. I’ve yet to take someone down there who hasn’t found the work incredible.”

In addition to the firm’s donation support, the firm’s Atlanta associates have engaged with Peace Prep by holding food drives, hosting field days for the students, preparing classrooms for the new school year and supporting local residents as they move into their homes.

“It’s heartwarming to see such a high rate of participation from associates in these events,” Hufford said. “I’m proud that involvement has expanded beyond the Global Equities & Investment Banking Services team and has become a Raymond James Atlanta initiative that’s fully supported by our local financial advisors and branch associates.”

A place of peace

Peace Prep believes that a school can be a place of transformation, not only for its students, but also for the families it serves and the communities it impacts. The school’s growth model involves adding a new grade level each year so that students can stay at Peace Prep through graduation. Peace Prep aims to be a pre-K through 12th grade school.

Raymond James Cares

Together, we make a difference to build, strengthen and grow our communities. To learn more about the firm’s corporate philanthropy, click here.

To see how associates give back all year long, follow Raymond James on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Diversity & Inclusion

At Raymond James, we strive to ensure everyone feels welcomed, valued, respected and heard. To learn more about the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts, click here.

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