Photos: Bloomberg Philanthropies
Support is Part of $750 Million Five-Year National Effort to Advance Public Schools
Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced $100 million in support to Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy and $100 million in support to Success Academy, two leading public charter schools in New York City. The funding will help each organization work to close the achievement gap for thousands of students from low-income families and offer a high-quality K-12 education for even more students, addressing the increased demand for their schools over the past few years. The support will, in part, assist in expanding and improving facilities; attracting and retaining excellent educators; bolstering programs to mitigate learning loss and improve mental health; and expanding college and career readiness for students.
Both Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy and Success Academy offer New York City students excellent K-12 educations that also help prepare them for success after graduation. Bloomberg Philanthropies has given Harlem Children’s Zone a previously unannounced $35 million in general operating support and the new $65 million in funding brings its total investment to date to $100 million. The $100 million gift to Success Academy is new funding.
“Harlem Children’s Zone and Success Academy have both shown what’s possible when we put students first, set high expectations, and hold everyone accountable for results,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “This investment will help both organizations build on their extraordinary track records of achievement, open doors of opportunity for more children, and continue to raise the bar for schools around the city and the country. Over the past two years of school closures and remote instruction, the crisis in public education has grown even worse, especially for low-income students who were already falling behind. Expanding access to high-quality charter schools has never been more important, and our foundation is going to do our part.”
The gifts are part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ national five-year $750 million effort to advance public education in the U.S. Believing that a stronger, more equitable, and more modern model of public education is urgently needed, Bloomberg’s investments will be made in public charter schools in 20 metro areas whose student populations have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and where, on average, more than 80 percent of students receive free and reduced-price lunch, and more than 90 percent are children of color. This funding will facilitate 150,000 additional seats for children in high quality charter schools across the country.
Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), whose mission is to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty in Central Harlem and lead the way for other long-distressed communities to do the same, has grown to serve more than 22,500 children and families annually. Its two Promise Academy campuses serve over 2,200 elementary, middle, and high school students – 99 percent of whom are students of color and 90 percent of whom are low-income – and HCZ outperformed district schools city- and state-wide on 2019 New York State exams. HCZ also offers a comprehensive network of supports for students and their families, including birth to preschool programs, counseling, benefits assistance, and other social services. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ new funding will allow HCZ Promise Academy to upgrade their school facilities and gain additional classroom space; establish a scholarship fund to provide Promise Academy graduates a debt-free education to any New York State college or university; strengthen the teacher pipeline and ability to retain top educators by providing loan forgiveness and performance incentives; offer extended wraparound health and academic remediation services for more students; and internship and career readiness programs.
“For the decades that I’ve known Mike Bloomberg, he has been a tireless advocate and partner in my efforts to highlight the crippling inequalities and critical need for reform in public education, particularly in poor communities here in the city and across the nation,” said Geoffrey Canada, founder and president of Harlem Children’s Zone and chairman of Promise Academy’s Board of Trustees. “Mike and I share the belief that what was a bad situation before COVID has become a potential catastrophe for poor children in this country unless we as educators and people that care about equity act in the most dramatic fashion. This additional funding will help address the mounting challenges faced by our children in Harlem and give them a real chance to live out the American dream. Mike Bloomberg has always been a champion for poor children in this city and in this country, and I’m thrilled by our continuing efforts to erase the inequalities that persist in public education.”
Prioritizing equity and excellence, Success Academy serves over 20,000 K-12 scholars at 47 schools in four boroughs, 78 percent of whom come from low-income socioeconomic backgrounds and over 94 percent of whom are students of color. Data from 2019 shows Success Academy students outperformed all New York State public school districts, with 99 percent passing math and 90 percent passing reading proficiency exams. Among the first five graduating classes, 100 percent have received college acceptances, including 60 percent to selective and highly selective institutions, and 71 percent received at least one offer meeting full financial need. This support from Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow Success Academy to achieve a new standard of scholar preparedness with a new campus in the South Bronx (pending NYC Board of Standards and Appeals approval) which will educate 2,400 of the city’s lowest income children across elementary, middle, and high school. Learning spaces across the campus will foster the implementation of a new fully integrated K-12 program that the network expects to exceed the current curriculum. The campus will also provide other educators and policy makers visibility into Success Academy’s approach.
“As mayor, Mike Bloomberg nurtured Success from the start. To this day, most of our schools operate out of public-school buildings to which he gave us access despite opposition from special interests,” said Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy. “Without this support, we’d be educating a tenth as many students. Now with this monumental gift, Bloomberg Philanthropies will help us make a giant leap from excellence to extraordinary — with a new K-12 campus that brings that vision to life.”
These and other Bloomberg Philanthropies investments in public charter schools over recent months have specifically targeted the sizable and growing student achievement gap in the U.S. and the negative impacts of COVID-19 on student learning over the past two years. Last week, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the creation of Summer Boost NYC, a $50 million program that will support summer 2022 learning at public charter schools in New York City for approximately 25,000 K-8 students who have significant learning gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. In March, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new $10 million initiative with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) that will build on its work with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their schools of education to help start new public charter schools in the Southeast, and recruit substantially more Black teachers and principals to work in them.
These philanthropic investments build on Mike Bloomberg’s work as mayor of New York City (2022-2013), overseeing the largest public school system in the country. As mayor, he made improving public education a top priority because he understood that a high-quality school is the best anti-poverty program yet invented. Bloomberg launched a charter sector that has continued to outperform district schools, validated by third party research. In New York City, public charter schools showed significantly stronger growth in both reading and math in data from the 2011-2012 to 2015-2016 school years, and now outperform district schools by 10 points in English and more than 15 points in math. Notable growth occurred among Hispanic and Black charter students in poverty, who posted stronger growth compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools. During his mayoralty, Bloomberg opened more schools in New York City than any administration in city history. Of those 650 schools, more than 150 were public charter schools.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 941 cities and 173 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy. This work spans the Arts, Education, the Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. It also includes Founder’s Projects that reflect Mike’s commitment to preventing gun violence, promoting women’s economic development, and accelerating the pace of Black wealth accumulation in the United States; and Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.66 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.