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About Magnet Schools of America (MSA)

About MSA

MSA is a national nonprofit professional education association whose members are schools and school districts.  The association represents and, is a resource to, magnet schools, parents, teachers, school boards, administrators, business leaders, community organizations and institutions of higher education.

MSA is governed by a board of directors, many of whom work in, or with, magnet schools. The executive committee is comprised of the President, President-Elect, Treasurer, Secretary, Parliamentarian and Past President.

Six geographic regions from around the United States and its territories are each represented on the board by a Regional Director. The Executive Director and staff serve in the national office based in Washington, D.C.

Distinguished and accomplished thought leaders, MSA’s six Specialized Directors advise and immerse the association with cutting edge perspectives in:

  • Racial and socio-economic diversity
  • Immersion programming
  • Civil rights
  • The latest research in the field
  • Legal analysis
  • Partnership development and more.

All of MSA’s directors have not only been catalysts for change in their own communities, they are leading a national dialogue and creating strategies for magnet schools by improving educational environments now that lead us into the future.

Read our By Laws and Strategic Plan.

See MSA’s Strategic Roadmap

Mission Statement

Providing vision, leadership and support for innovative programs that promote choice, equity, diversity, access, and excellence for all students.

The MSA Board of Directors approved a new strategic vision for the organization that will help create and shape the future of magnet schools across the nation.  MSA will not only continue to be relevant to our membership, but the strategic vision will create a path to more fully live out our organizational mission.


Collaboratively, with its members and partners, Magnet Schools of America will:

  • Be the foremost public school choice leader for equitable education, school integration, and academic excellence.
  • Be the leading resource for accessible, equitable, and innovative learning environments supporting integrated theme-based teaching and learning.
  • Provide resources and trainings to support strong magnet programs that address the needs of our members and support high quality instructional systems.
  • Serve as the public voice for exemplar magnet schools and high-quality innovative instructional practices.
  • Influence and impact policy and research aligned to our mission.
  • Develop, cultivate, and sustain significant mission-driven relationships that promote equity, diversity, innovation, professional learning, member needs, and community and family engagement.

Strategic Plan

Organizationally, MSA will be:

  1. Renewing and communicating the purpose for MSA and magnet schools
  2. Engaging in collaborations that support the mission of MSA, its members, and the business operations of MSA
  3. Clarifying member value, purpose, structure, and processes of NIMSL, Certification, and professional learning

Programmatically, MSA will be:

  1. Promoting the uniqueness and value of magnet schools for diversity, equity, inclusion, and academic achievement
  2. Connecting, recruiting, and retaining members
  3. Delivering professional learning services/technical assistance for magnet schools and districts

Operationally, MSA will be:

  1. Continuing its financial stewardship
  2. Improving and standardizing internal and external communication across the organization
  3. Focusing on growing membership through intentional planning, valued resources, and access

Download the Strategic Plan.

History of MSA

In protest to racially segregated schools in the 1960’s, magnet schools – along with other alternative options to traditional public school education – emerged in America’s largest cities.

The association has its roots in Texas where, in 1986, Magnet Schools of America (MSA) was initially incorporated as a for-profit organization that sponsored conferences. In 1994, a small group of inspired magnet visionaries were successful in receiving IRS approval for the organization as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, professional education association. The association moved from its original location in Houston until it relocated to Washington, D.C. in 2000.

Historical Highlights

  • 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared the explicit goal of reducing school segregation while providing high-quality education programs to all students.
  • 1968, in Tacoma, Washington, the first school designed to reduce racial isolation by offering school choice opened.
  • 1971, In Houston, Texas, the effect of a Performing and Visual Arts School is described as working like a magnet. The term caught on.
  • 1974, first research was released by Mario Fantini that showed all students do not learn the same way. A unifying theme or a different organizational structure for students of similar interests will improve learning in all areas.
  • 1985, Federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program was authorized.
  • 1986, Magnet Schools of America was founded.
  • 1994, MSA was formally approved as a 501(c)3.
  • 2000, MSA moves from Houston, Texas to Washington, D.C.


Today, among myriad benefits it provides – not only to educating children nationwide in its 4,340 schools, but to professionals – Magnet Schools of America supports its members through a series of professional development opportunities.  From the ability to mine for and share best practices with same-themed schools, to monthly professional development webinars, to discounts to conferences, to grant and scholarship information, a monthly newsletter and more, MSA serves its members with the same dedication that it serves its educational purpose – supporting the individual needs of its members for their educational enrichment.

MSA Today

As a leader for magnet schools nationwide, MSA represents the mission of magnet schools on Capitol Hill by being an educational resource on behalf of its teachers and administrators.  Resources, news and updates on legislative issues are available here on the MSA website under our “news” section.  Access to our Grassroots Action Center, policy Blog and Legislative updates are the result of key, and crucial, discussions on the future of magnet schools.

The association sponsors a national awards program, that recognizes top magnet schools in the United States as well as individual award programs including Magnet’s Principal of the Year Award, Teacher of the Year, District Administrator of the Year and MSA Superintendent of the Year Award.  MSA provides professional development events, and provides technical assistance through the National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL).

Technical Services Provided to Schools and Districts by Magnet Schools of America

Technical assistance is provided to schools and districts on a fee for service basis through the National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL). Services can be tailored to meet the individual needs of schools and districts through our exclusive network of national magnet school experts.

Contact us for more information and a consultation.

Learn how to become a Nationally Certified Magnet School

Raise the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow.

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