Expanding the Best Charter Network in New York

  • Education
  • 2016

Success Academy Charter Schools turned ten years old in 2016. And they celebrated the date with $10 million of donations from a variety of New York City philanthropists, plus a $25 million capstone gift from hedge-fund pioneer Julian Robertson. The $35 million total will be used to expand the school network from its current 34 campuses to a total of 100 over the next several years. And Robertson’s gift in particular will be used to ramp up the Success Academy Education Institute, an online portal where the school shares its innovative curriculum and potent teacher-training methods with any other schools who want to make use of them. Robertson was one of the major backers who funded creation of the Institute some years ago, as a means of sharing the techniques of New York state’s most successful schools.

Though it accepts almost entirely low-income and minority students by random public lottery, Success has outperformed schools in even New York’s most affluent communities—ranking in the top 1 percent statewide in math, and the top 3 percent in reading. Despite Success’s rapid growth, close to ten times as many children want to attend as can be enrolled through the annual lottery. In the latest year, a heartbreaking 17,000 families put themselves on a waiting list for open seats. Thus the importance of the major expansion funded by Robertson and other donors, including New York financier John Paulson, who offered $8.5 million back in 2015.