Kyiv Brotherhood School, the ancestor of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, was founded in 1615 by Kyiv Epiphany Brotherhood, which is reflected in the very name of the school. Kyiv Brotherhood arose and functioned in the context of the religious and cultural movement of the second half of the 16th century — the beginning of the 17th century. It belonged to the cluster of Orthodox brotherhoods — religious and cultural organizations that arose in the Orthodox — primarily, the bourgeois — environment in the Ukrainian voivodeships of the Rzecz Pospolita and in the territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Those were, in particular, Lviv, Vilno, Kamyanets, Rohatyn, Ostroh, Przemysl, Kholm, Zamostia, Berest, Vinnytsia, Polotsk, and others.
The initiators and members of the brotherhoods set themselves the goal of protecting denominational interests, trying to control the hierarchy and parish clergy, taking care of the behavior of their members, helping them, establishing schools and printing houses, controlling and caring for their further development.
Notable about Kyiv Brotherhood is the fact of active participation of the clergy and gentry, and later — the Cossacks, in its creation and functioning, as well as the fact of its rather late appearance. Famous intellectual monks Elisha Pletenetsky, Isaiah Kopynsky, Zakharia Kopystensky, Job Boretsky, and others were among the first founders of Brotherhood and School. The earliest fixation of the members of Brotherhood is dated back to the beginning of January 1616.
The creation of the school was financially supported by Halshka (Yelyzaveta / Elizabeth) Hulevychivna from an Orthodox noble family. According to the record in Kyiv Magistrates’ Books, on October 15, 1615 she granted her estate in Podil to Kyiv Brotherhood in order to establish a monastery, school, and shelter for pilgrims. In 1620, Hetman Petro Sahaidachny joined Brotherhood with all the Zaporizhian Army and in that way supported it not only financially but also with the Cossack saber.
With the participation of the Cossacks and Kyiv Brotherhood in 1620, Kyiv Epiphany Monastery received from Jerusalem Patriarch Theophanes III the right of stauropigy, that is, the direct patriarchal subordination. In 1629 King Sigismund III sanctioned the functioning of Brotherhood by his charter. In the second half of the 17th century the references to the Brotherhood disappear from the documents.
Kyiv Brotherhood School was created according to the model of other brotherhood schools, primarily Lviv Brotherhood School. That means that the school was based on the principle of accessibility for all social strata. Students schooled here regardless of their social origin and material wealth of their parents. Children of the middle class, Cossacks, clergy, and gentry studied at Kyiv Brotherhood School.
Students studied “Slavic-Ross” (likely, the Church Slavonic language in Ukrainian edition), Greek, Polish, and Latin, grammar, poetry, arithmetic, rhetoric, music, the basics of philosophy, and, possibly, the beginnings of theology. Clerical and secular persons were the teachers. For instance, the names of the teachers Yakiv Memlevych, Sava Andriyevych, Vasyl Berezetsky are known.
The Rectors of the school were Job Boretsky (1615-1618), Meletiy Smotrytsky (up to 1620), Kasiyan Sakovych (1620-1624), Spyrydon Sobol (1626-1628), and Khoma Yevlevych (1628-1632), who also taught at school.
In 1632 Kyiv Collegium was founded on the basis of Kyiv Brotherhood School as a result of the merger of the brotherhood and lavra schools, and the reform of the educational principles and program. This happened with the direct participation and support of Petro Mohyla.