Thanks to Bill and Karen Young, the Marco Island Academy – Marco's charter high school – now holds the deed to the 5.88 acres on which it sits on San Marco Boulevard.

The $1.8 million purchase was the fulfillment of a lease-purchase agreement negotiated by former academy board member Michael Vale several years ago. The Youngs loaned the academy $2 million to purchase the land.

"This moment is pivotal," said academy chair Jane Watt, holding the deed to the property in her hand. "The land is now in our possession, and we have a permanent home."

Prior to the Youngs' land purchase, the academy paid rent to a private landowner to occupy the site with its modular administrative offices and classrooms.

Watt said she also realizes that "fundraising will be a necessity to pay the mortgage back and eventually build a school on the property."

Watt first met Bill Young at a Spirit of Marco Rotary event when she introduced herself and asked if they could talk at some point. The following week Young toured the school, met the principal and many of the teachers. Since then, the Youngs have been avid supporters with naming rights on the administrative wing of the campus.

The Youngs moved to Marco 15 years ago after Bill Young spent his entire life in the retail automobile business in Indianapolis. After raising her children, Karen Young spent several years as a professional photographer. Passionate about children and education, the Youngs have supported many charities in the Marco community.

"I wasn't familiar with MIA until I visited the school and saw firsthand the students and teachers in action. I was impressed with what I saw," said Bill Young. "In the spring, I read Jane's book, 'Fighting For Kids.' Although I knew that MIA was a quality school, I didn't realize all the struggles and obstacles Jane had overcome. I have the deepest regard and respect for her staying with it."

Young told her that if he had known how challenging starting the school had been, he would have helped sooner.

"True to his word, he has done more than just help the school. He is leaving a legacy behind on Marco Island," Watt said, laughing and reassuring him that the school still needs help.

"Bill and Karen Young are two of the most incredible people I have ever met," said Watt. "There are no words to express my gratitude for the support they have shown Marco Island Academy. Their generosity will touch the lives of children in our community for generations to come. But our relationship is more than a business relationship to me. They are family."

Check back here at for more on this developing story and what it means to the future of the growing charter school.

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