Groundbreaking for First Major Boarding School Campus to Open in L.A. Region in Nearly 100 Years

EF Academy to Open Private International High School in Pasadena Focused on Shaping 21st Century Global Leaders

PASADENA, Calif.--()--Pasadena will soon be home to a new international high school with a 16-acre campus and an academic program modeled in the tradition of the world’s best boarding schools. EF Education First, the world’s largest international education company, broke ground today on its first West Coast boarding school at a ceremony attended by local elected leaders and other city officials. EF Academy is slated to open in 2020, and eventually will welcome an estimated 975 high school students hailing from 75 countries for an academically rigorous program centered on expanding students’ worldviews.

“Pasadena is thrilled to welcome EF Academy’s first-class institution and international young scholars to our city,” said Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, who also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony. “We believe the school will complement our diverse, vibrant community and that students will benefit from the many opportunities available right at their doorstep.”

EF Academy is redeveloping the former William Carey International University campus property with a focus on rehabilitating and modernizing existing facilities, preserving the iconic McGavran Hall, and building ground-up student dormitories. The plan includes brand-new sports facilities, such as a regulation-sized soccer field and swimming pool, as well as an auditorium, contemporary STEM center, and gallery space for student art exhibitions.

The opening of EF Academy is expected to bring immediate financial benefits to the City of Pasadena, including 750 construction jobs, 150 permanent jobs, $5 million in annual spending at local businesses, and $1.1 million annually in new commercial property tax revenue.

“I’ve been a supporter of this project from the start because EF Academy is an impressive institution with a track record of making a significant local impact, especially on small businesses,” said Councilmember Margaret McAustin (District 2). “I appreciate the EF team’s ongoing outreach to their neighbors and the community at large, and look forward to a long-lasting partnership.”

EF Academy will stand out among the region’s educational institutions for its focus on preparing students for a future with no borders through a rigorous curriculum, multilingual education and experiential learning across the curriculum. Offering a full pathway to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma as well as elective credits, students not only have a rigorous academic experience but also can aspire to the most selective universities. At EF Academy’s other flagship campus in Thornwood, New York, one out of three students are accepted to the world’s top five percent of universities, and 99 percent of graduates are accepted to university degree programs.

EF Academy students can also take advantage of unique opportunities based on the Institution’s affiliation with the broader EF Education First company, such as working side-by-side with local community members in Peru or the Dominican Republic during an immersive service learning tour or attending the EF Global Leadership Summit and hearing from some of the world’s most influential thought leaders.

“With an incredibly diverse student body hailing from around the globe, EF Academy’s curriculum is focused on building bridges between cultural groups and understanding diverse perspectives,” said George Stewart, incoming head of school. “We see education as a force to unite people, nations, and cultures in order to create a more peaceful and sustainable world.”

Founded in 1965 in Sweden, EF’s mission is opening the world through education. More than one million people from around the world participate each year in EF Education First language immersion programs, educational tours, study abroad and international degree programs. The privately held, family-owned company has 52,000 employees across 612 offices and schools in 50 countries across the globe.

“Nearly 40 years after EF opened its first U.S. operations in Santa Barbara, we are excited to expand again in the Los Angeles region and add to our portfolio of schools up and down the California coast,” said Shawna Marino, Vice President of EF Education First. “EF Academy is very intentional about teaching our students how to live successfully in their host community, and we look forward to seeing how our students contribute to Pasadena and the L.A. area overall.”

About EF Education First

EF Education First is a family-owned global education company. Through language, academic, cultural exchange and travel programs, EF hopes to play a small part in making the world a better place by uniting people across borders. EF was founded in 1965 in Lund, Sweden.

Project renderings available upon request.


Malina Brown
(310) 974-6683


Malina Brown
(310) 974-6683