Achievement First

At a Glance

National Office: 
335 Adams Street Suite 700
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: 718-623-2660

Dacia Toll
People Served: 
11,600
Year Founded: 
2003
Tax ID: 
65-1203744

Focus area(s):

Charter Schools
Teacher & Principal Training
Reading/Math

See These Reports For More Information

Description

Achievement First is a growing network of non-profit, high-performing, college-preparatory, K to 12 public charter schools in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. The mission of Achievement First is to deliver on the promise of equal educational opportunity for all of America's children. Achievement First believes that all children, regardless of race or economic status, can succeed if they have access to a great education. Achievement First schools provide all students with the academic and character skills they need to graduate from top colleges, to succeed in a competitive world, and to serve as the next generation of leaders in our communities.

Achievement First’s first school, Amistad Academy, was founded in 1999, and the larger network, Achievement First, was established in 2003. Achievement First set out to create great schools that serve and support low-income, high-needs communities in achieving academic success at the same high levels as their more affluent peers. Achievement First continues to be inspired by this same mission today, with the opening of the organization’s 31st and 32nd schools in the 2016-17 school year.

Impact and Outcomes

Achievement First was named one of three finalists for the 2015 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, the top national award for charter management organizations based on student achievement.
Last spring, 100% of Achievement First’s graduating seniors were accepted to colleges and universities for the seventh consecutive year.
When U.S. News & World Report unveiled its 2016 Best High Schools rankings, Achievement First Amistad High was ranked the third-best school in the State of Connecticut. This ranking positions Achievement First Amistad High as the state’s top public high school—the first- and second-place schools are magnets.
In August 2015, The New Teacher Project (TNTP) published The Mirage, a two-year study focused on teacher development across the country. The study looked at three traditional public school districts and at Achievement First, and evaluated the impact of professional development efforts on teacher growth. Achievement First was the only “district” that showed any measureable growth amongst its teachers—the result of two things: 1) Achievement First’s commitment to coaching and practice-based professional development, and 2) organizational mindsets.

Mission & Goals

The mission of Achievement First is to deliver on the promise of equal educational opportunity for all of America's children. Achievement First believes that all children, regardless of race or economic status, can succeed if they have access to a great education. Achievement First schools provide all students with the academic and character skills they need to graduate from top colleges, to succeed in a competitive world, and to serve as the next generation of leaders in our communities.

Achievement First’s Theory of Change outlines how the organization will accomplish its mission:

  • Excellence with Equity: Achievement First aims to set the bar for what excellence looks like in urban public education by supporting students to achieve suburban-level outcomes. Achievement First does this while serving similar populations of high-needs students as traditional, urban public schools, so that the organization can be an authentic “proof point” of what is possible in public education. 100% of Achievement First students are admitted by blind lottery, nearly 100% of students are African-American or Latino, approximately 85% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 85% of Achievement First’s high school graduates are the first in their families to attend college.
  • Grow Schools in Existing Communities: Achievement First has made an intentional choice to deepen its growth in the cities the organization currently serves—Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven, Connecticut, Brooklyn, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island—in order to contribute to more transformational change in these communities.
  • Share With and Learn From Others: Even as Achievement First’s schools and network grow in size, the organization will still only serve a portion of public school students in need of a high-quality education. By partnering with others, Achievement First sharpens its own approach, exchanges best practices to broaden collective impact, and helps ensure that as many students as possible have access to the great education they deserve.

Program

Achievement First’s effective program has two integral elements: 1) a school model that promotes high levels of student achievement, and 2) a network model that supports multiple schools at scale.

At the school level,Achievement First focuses on six key elements:

  • Unwavering focus on student achievement
  • Talent development
  • More time spent learning
  • Rigorous, Common-Core aligned curriculum
  • Strategic use of data
  • Strong school cultures

At the network level, Achievement First enables schools to have programmatic freedom, while remaining ultimately responsible for ensuring that schools and students are successful by:

  • Centralizing and coordinating expertise, services, and support, such as fundraising, finance, human capital, talent recruitment and development, operations, and systems, data, and information technology
  • Sharing and systematizing a successful practice at one school for the benefit of the entire network
  • Holding schools accountable and, when a school is not being successful, intervening and taking corrective action
  • Allowing for economies of scale and higher levels of specialization that enable the network to operate at cost levels that are the same or less than host public schools districts

Impact

The United States has failed to live up to the promise of equal education for all students: low-income students and students of color significantly trail their more affluent peers, and students in the United States continue to fall behind their international peers.

  • According to a 2015 report by The Pell Institute, 77% of students from affluent areas of the United States earn a college degree by age 24 versus 9% of students from low-income areas. 
  •  A 2015 report by the Pew Research Center ranks the United States 35th in math out of 63 advanced industrial nations.

One of the greatest barriers that communities and the country still face is a debilitating skepticism that real change and breakthrough educational outcomes are possible. With a social justice mission at the organization’s core, Achievement First feel tremendous urgency to close the achievement gap and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly competitive world. Achievement First believes that its success can create a strong proof point about what is really possible, elevate expectations, and inspire and compel others to do the same. 

Achievement First also believes that the education sector can go further faster when everyone works together, and sharing proven resources is an easy and high-impact way to help as many students as possible—if an organization has something (core curricula, training materials, and other tools) that is bringing out the very best in students, it has an obligation to share it and let it bring out the best in thousands more kids. To that end, Achievement First has made its core materials open source and has been vocal in challenging other charter school leaders, district leaders, and funders to do the same.

Growth Plan

Achievement First’s first school, Amistad Academy, which was founded in New Haven in 1999, is now a network of 32 schools serving more than 11,600 students. In contrast to the common dichotomy between growth and excellence, Achievement First is recognized as one of the country’s top charter networks. However, there is still a desperate need and desire for high-quality public schools and limited capacity to create them. Achievement First currently receives approximately eight applications for every open seat in one of its schools.  Therefore, Achievement First will continue to pursue annual growth of approximately 2-3 new schools.

Location of Sites

National Office: 
335 Adams Street Suite 700
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: 718-623-2660
List of locations

To make a contribution to a program site:

  1. Click on the "Make a Contribution Now" button and include the name, city and state of the program you would like to support, in the "notes" text box on the organization's donation form, if available.
  2. If a "notes" or "designation" box is not available, write the city and state on your check in the "notes" section or call the national office to designate your contribution to a local program site.

Locations in the following states:

Connecticut

New York

Rhode Island

Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2014

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$8,637,450
Government Funding: 
$839,287
Contributions from Individuals: 
$1,067,550
Special Events: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$0
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$16,813,833
Other Revenue: 
$80,000
Total Revenue: 
$27,438,120

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$19,036,671
Occupancy: 
$477,320
Travel & Entertainment: 
$698,449
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$177,882
Telephone & Communications: 
$247,542
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$6,131,492
Other Expenses (Description): 

Includes all other non-personnel school costs.

Other Expenses (Description): 

Total Expenses: 
$26,769,356

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$668,764

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2013

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$8,679,636
Government Funding: 
$771,394
Contributions from Individuals: 
$994,962
Program Services Fees: 
$0
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$13,482,075
Other Revenue: 
$72,000
Special Events: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$24,000,067

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$16,314,250
Occupancy: 
$310,500
Travel & Entertainment: 
$551,806
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$121,220
Telephone & Communication: 
$272,563
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$6,081,200
Other Expenses (Description): 

Includes all non-personnel school costs.

Total Expenses: 
$23,651,539

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$348,528

Major Funders

A key part of Achievement First’s role as a proof point for the sector is to operate its schools and network in a way that is financially sustainable. Achievement First is committed to achieving gap-closing results using the same financial resources as its host public school districts. However, given the current disparity in how district public schools and charter public schools are funded, Achievement First could not operate without the generosity of the following foundations and organizations, as well as many others:

·         Anthony L. Davis Foundation

·         The Bezalel Fund (advised by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation at the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program)

·         Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

·         The Bouncer Foundation

·         Carnegie Corporation of New York

·         The Carson Family Charitable Trust

·         The Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation

·         Charter School Growth Fund

·         The Clark Foundation

·         Credit Suisse Americas Foundation

·         The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

·         The Grossman Family Foundation

·         The Kovner Foundation

·         Lone Pine Foundation

·         The Louis Calder Foundation

·         The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation

·         Robertson Foundation

·         Robin Hood Foundation

·         The Sea Cove Foundation

·         Seedlings Foundation

·         Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, Inc.

·         Tauck Family Foundation

·         Tiger Foundation

·         The Vince and Linda McMahon Family Foundation, Inc.

·         Walton Family Foundation

·         The William H. Pitt Foundation, Inc.

·         Yale University