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Raising Educational Achievement Coalition of Harlem (REACH)
At a Glance
In 2012, TC launched the Partnership Schools Consortium. One year later, the consortium was re-named the Raising Educational Achievement Coalition of Harlem (REACH). REACH aims to improve students' educational outcomes in a group of high-need PK-12 schools in Harlem. It seeks to demonstrate how universities can effectively and strategically partner with public schools in sustainable and cost-effective ways to help address the needs of children and families in distressed communities.
The six schools in the initial cohort are located in communities that exhibit high levels of poverty and low levels of educational attainment. On average 73% of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. One third of community residents live below the poverty level. Pending additional funding, REACH hopes to add schools to achieve an overall cohort of up to twelve schools. The six schools currently included in REACH are Margaret Douglass Elementary School (PS 36), Harriett Tubman Elementary School (PS 154), Countee Cullen Elementary School (PS 194), Frederick Douglass Academy II (FDA II), Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and The Heritage School.
TC’s unique approach to school partnership is shaped by two interrelated principles. The first is the idea of "university-assisted" schools, which refers to deep and sustained partnerships, tight cohesion of efforts by school and university personnel, and shared accountability for student academic success. The second principle is “comprehensive educational opportunity”, which brings into focus the range of specific factors that have the greatest impact on student development and learning. Those factors derive from research conducted by TC faculty and reflect the College’s expertise in teaching, health, psychology and leadership.
REACH therefore implements a set of coherent and strategic actions that increases access to comprehensive educational opportunity. The main areas of focus are school leadership, pedagogical practices, expanded learning experiences, early childhood education, physical and mental health, and family engagement. TC dedicates intellectual, human and financial resources and leverages the assets of Columbia University and community-based organizations to promote students' learning, health and well-being.
REACH taps the combined expertise and resources of Teachers College, Columbia University and a host of community-based organizations. TC's Center for the Professional Education of Teachers (CPET), The Reading & Writing Project, The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, the Student Press Initiative, the Institute for Learning Technologies, the Columbia School of Social Work, TC's Dean Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services, the Communication Sciences & Disorders Department, and theNational Center for Restructuring Education, Schools & Teaching (NCREST) have been instrumental in the design, implementation, and evaluation of activities. The Columbia School of Social Work and the Mailman School of Public Health are key partners in the planning and implementation of the physical and mental health component of REACH.
Community-based partners such as Harlem Dowling Westside Center, Harlem Children Zone, Urban Arts Partnership, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Tribeca Film Institute, YWCA,College Summit, Young Audiences New York, Young Harlem Inc., Community Word Project, New York City Mission Society, Children's Arts & Science Workshops, The After School Corporation (TASC), Youth Studies, Inc., and St. Luke's Hospital have contributed to expanding learning opportunities for hundreds of elementary and secondary school students through implementation of after-school programs, technical assistance and evaluation.
In addition to the resources devoted to REACH by Teachers College, the project has enjoyed generous support from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the GE Foundation, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Hearst Foundations, the Saltz Foundation, and from many individual donors.
The project's robust Expanded Learning Opportunities component is supported primarily through 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal funding awarded to TC by the New York State Department of Education (NYSED). NYSED has granted REACH two awards under its Community School Grants Initiative which is directed toward health and family engagement activities. REACH is also the recipient of grants from the United Way of New York City and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development.