Perhaps the only thing that can cool down the up-and-coming Columbus Collegiate Academy (CCA) – a highly structured, highly disciplined, tuition-free charter middle school in East Columbus – is the purchase it is making with a $25,000 grant from the Messer Construction Co. Foundation. A 12-ton air conditioning unit, along with ductwork, will be installed at the school, thermally controlling four sixth-grade classrooms and completing air conditioning for the entire east wing of the school.

Andy Boy, founder and executive director of the CCA, said the grant will positively impact the students’ learning environment.

“Overcoming obstacles is part of this process, and this grant from Messer will remove one of the many obstacles our staff and students face – extreme heat,” he said. “For five months of the year, the portion of the building that serves our most challenged grade-band was a difficult environment to learn and teach in.”

Founded in 2008, the school has already become nationally recognized for its education model. In the 2010-11 school year, the CCA was one of four schools nationally to be named an EPIC Gold Gain School, a program by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund used to identify, study and share what’s working in some of the country’s highest-gaining urban schools.

The following school year, the CCA received an “Excellent” rating from the Ohio Department of Education – the only stand-alone middle school in Franklin County to do so. That year, seventh and eighth grade students scored above the state of Ohio average in all tested subjects of the Ohio Achievement Assessments standardized test.

Robert Verst, vice president and GM of Messer, expressed his company’s admiration and support for the CCA.

“We are pleased to present the Columbus Collegiate Academy with this grant and further their efforts to advance young students both in and out of the classroom,” he said. “Their philosophy and approach to education and development during the vital middle-school years has proven very effective, and Messer is excited to support those efforts.”

Criteria for grants from Messer include the expected return on investment to the community, the positive change expected from the Foundation’s investment, and Messer employee engagement and individual support for the organization.

The installation of the AC unit is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2014, if not sooner.