NYC Outward Bound Schools

At a Glance

National Office: 
2946 Northern Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101
Phone: 718.706.9900

Richard Stopol
People Served: 
75,000
Year Founded: 
1987
Tax ID: 
13-3471084

Focus area(s):

Teacher & Principal Training
K-12 Reform
College Access
Personal & Leadership Development

Description

NYC Outward Bound Schools transforms public schools and changes students' lives through our network of public schools, which we operate in partnership with the NYC Department of Education, and which challenge students and teachers to meet their full potential. Our educational approach delivers academic rigor through real-world learning that is relevant in the lives of students and their communities; develops character skills and leadership qualities in our students that inspire them to serve their communities; develops school cultures where learning thrives and core values are embraced and upheld; and supports students and alumni in getting to and through good-fit colleges. 

Utilizing the nationally renowned EL Education school model (formerly Expeditionary Learning), which has roots in Outward Bound, our schools prepare students for college, citizenship, and the 21st-century workplace by bringing to life the central principle of Outward Bound: that combining intensive challenge with guided support leads to students achieving far more than they ever thought possible.

Impact and Outcomes

88% of our 2016 class graduated in 4 years, compared to the 2015 citywide rate of 67%.
98% of our 2016 graduates were accepted to college.
73% of our students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
Our 87% June graduation rate for Hispanic students and our 85% graduation rate for black students (2016) beat the most recently available (2015) citywide June graduation rate of 80% for white students.
The 6-month college enrollment rate of our 2015 graduates is 82%, surpassing our strategic plan goal of 75%.
Our most recent graduates (2015 and 2016) are attending colleges that include Cornell, Dartmouth, Brandeis, Bard, Hampshire, Pitzer, NYU, Skidmore, Barnard, Sarah Lawrence, Fordham, Howard, Franklin & Marshall, Muhlenburg, Trinity, Holy Cross and Middlebury, as well as the full range of SUNY and CUNY schools, among others.

Mission & Goals

NYC Outward Bound Schools seeks to be a model of and champion for an educational approach that makes learning active, engaging, challenging and adventurous, puts equal emphasis on intellectual and character development, promotes teamwork and compassion, and results in people achieving at higher levels than they ever thought possible.

The vision for NYC Outward Bound Schools in 2017 is of an influential educational organization whose schools and programs are consistently excellent and serve as models for others, supported by a sustainable financial model and a highly motivated and effective staff and board.

More specifically, the vision includes establishing a network of great public schools in New York City that are full partners in running, along with the city's Department of Education. These schools, based upon the nationally recognized EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) school model, will primarily enroll students from underserved communities. The network schools will be recognized and acclaimed for providing students with a high quality education that prepares them for success in college, work and life, and for being models of educational excellence.  NYC Outward Bound Schools also will have developed a menu of professional development programs for teachers which enable the organization to share best practices and educational approach with teachers from public schools throughout New York City.

Program

The model – EL Education—is an intensive whole school model that touches all corners of a school, shaping instruction, leadership, and school culture. It serves as a blueprint for what makes an excellent school.

NYC Outward Bound provides support at the following levels to help schools fully implement the model:

  1. Leadership support for principals. Because the organization believes that the quality of leadership at a school is a critical determinant of school success, significant time and resources are devoted to leadership support. This work takes a number of forms. The organization works one-on-one as thought partners with principals on issues relevant to their practice, such as strategic planning, scheduling, and human resources. Principals are provided with a sequence of leadership activities designed to support them in being strong leaders of an Expeditionary Learning school and to benefit from being part of a Community of Practice with their peers. And a mentoring program is available where principals who are newest to the network are paired with a veteran school leader.
  2. Intensive and extensive professional development for teachers. The NYC Outward Bound professional development is distinctive because it is inquiry-based, highly interactive, and models the very practices and structures that effective teachers use in their own classrooms. It includes school-based coaching, opportunities for teachers to participate in ongoing professional development on the regional and national level, and a rigorous summer training for new teachers.
  3. A robust menu of student programming.  Activities for students that foster a culture of achievement, teamwork, compassion, self-reliance, and commitment are provide at each school. The signature offering in this area is the annual Crew Orientation course—a multi-day, residential Outward Bound course for all incoming students and their Crew Advisor. The course provides students with a unique and memorable learning experience that helps them learn the value of teamwork, best effort, responsibility, perseverance and other qualities that they need for success in school and elsewhere; it also helps them build caring, trusting relationships with the other members of their Crew and with their Crew Advisors.   

Impact

NYC Outward Bound has a successful network of public schools which includes a mix of preK-12, 6-8, 6-12, and 9-12 grade schools. Despite the fact that the schools primarily serve a high need student population from neighborhoods where access to high quality education has been historically lacking, the network schools show strong results and regularly outperforming city averages on key indicators of student success.

Demographics

  • Schools primarily serve a high need population. 73%of students qualify for free/reduced lunch. 21% are classified as having special education needs. Students are predominantly Hispanic (39%) and African-American (33%).
  • Students enter behind grade level in key subject areas. Only 22% of our incoming 9th graders were proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) and 14% were proficient in Math. In all cases, our incoming proficiency rates were lower than the citywide averages.  

Academic Success

  • High school graduation rates are strong. Our 2016 4-year June graduation rate of 88% far outpaces the most recent city rate of 67%. Our projected 2016 August graduation rate is 90%
  • College acceptance rates are outstanding. 98% of 2016 graduates were accepted to college and several high schools had 100% college acceptance rates.
  • Our graduates are attending high-quality colleges and universities. Our most recent graduates (2015 and 2016) are attending colleges that include Cornell, Dartmouth, Brandeis, Bard, Hampshire, Pitzer, NYU, Skidmore, Barnard, Sarah Lawrence, Fordham, Howard, Franklin & Marshall, Muhlenburg, Trinity, Holy Cross and Middlebury, as well as the full range of SUNY and CUNY schools, among others. 
  • Our college persistence rates show promising early results. 83% of our 2014 graduates who enrolled in college persisted from first to second year, as compared to 77% the year before. 
  • Our network schools consistently performed well on NYC Department of Education accountability measures: 96% of the time, our schools received the highest or second highest rating in their most recent Department of Education Quality Reviews, compared to 63% of schools citywide. And in 94% of cases across all categories of the School Quality Guide system, our schools were identified as good or excellent as compared to just 70% citywide.

Pioneering College Access & Persistence Programs

Our To & Through College Program is breaking new ground. Through this program we are providing a range of supports for our students to help them get into and complete college.  These supports include:

  • College March. This annual event in which seniors from all our network schools march their college applications to the post office has now been joined by a total of 22 schools from 11 cities. We have encouraged this replication through our open source online tookit on collegmarch.org and by sharing the practice at conferences such as the 2015 National College Access Network Conference.
  • College Meet-Up Day. This annual event brings together graduating seniors from across our network schools to make connections with other students who are going to similar colleges. Over 250 students participated this year.
  • College Bridge. In partnership with CARA we train recent graduates of our schools to provide near-peer mentoring as alumni coaches for students during the summer between high school graduation and their first semester of college. Almost 600 students received CARA coaching this year.
  • Text Message Support. We have built out a text-messaging program to provide our students with reminders about upcoming college enrollment and persistence deadlines and provide individual support to those who respond with questions or concerns, reaching over 1,500 alumni from our schools.
  • College Crew. Drawing on our successful Crew structure in our schools, we have established a college-level advisory program that brings together a group of our alumni currently enrolled in NYC based community colleges for weekly meetings that provide peer support and advocacy.

Our Innovations & Best Practices Make Us A Model for Others

  • Our schools are increasingly recognized for their innovation and as models for others. Metropolitan was selected to be a host school as part of the NYC Department of Education's Learning Partner program which partners middle schools that employ exemplary practices with either new schools or schools in need of improvement. WHEELS was profiled on PBS as a successful school where individualized attention, an ethos of support, and strong sense of community has helped propel its 98% Latino student body toward academic and personal success. Hahn was spotlighted by the UFT as a school offering a model for “how high schools can be places where parents, communities, students, educators and other stakeholders can collaborate to achieve the best outcomes for students”. And Joshua Steckel, BCS’ College Counselor and co-author of Hold Fast to Dreams, and several of his former students were featured on the Leonard Lopate Show and at a New School event titled "Working Towards College Success: Obstacles and Strategies.

  • Our schools are increasingly identified as models within the national EL Education school network of over 150 schools.  MELS and MAELS are two of only 23 schools nationwide to be credentialed by EL Education for their strong EL practices and success in promoting high levels of student achievement in the three areas EL considers most critical: mastery of knowledge and skills, character, and high quality student work. Leaders is in the process of being credentialed this summer and hosted a national EL Education Site Seminar in the spring focused on the impact of shared leadership practices on student achievement. MAELS has been selected to host a fall Site Seminar and MELS has been selected to serve as an EL Education Mentor School.  As a mentor school, MELS will open their school and practice up to other EL Education schools from across the country. 

  • Our network of schools is increasingly recognized in New York City as a leader in innovation and model for others. The NYC Department of Education chose two of our schools (MELS and MAELS) to serve as Showcase Schools. Throughout the year, both schools will host visits from schools across the City to share their strong instructional practices and the leadership structures they have put in place to support these practices. Additionally, Channel View was lauded by the DOE for its successes in providing a supportive, inclusive environment for students with autism spectrum disorder through its involvement in the City’s Nest program.

  • Our schools and work are regularly recognized in the press. WHEELS was in the top 20 list of best 2016 NYC Public high schools in US News and World Report. ABC7's annual special, Protect Our Children, included a segment on our To & Through College work through the lens of Brooklyn Collaborative's college readiness and access program. American RadioWorks ran a feature-length documentary--"Beyond the Blackboard - Building Character in Public Schools"exploring the educational ideas of Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn and how his ideas inspired the founding of a national network of public schools using the EL Education approach. Mashable captured the growing spirit of our annual College March and the article was shared over 6,700 times. 

  • Nationally-recognized leaders and writers cite our schools as models. David Brooks wrote a column in the New York Times entitled “Characters of Community” which pointed to Leaders as a prime example of a school that is successfully cultivating character and building community. In his new book “Helping Children to Succeed” Paul Tough cites WHEELS as a strong example of what works in providing low-income students with the social-emotional and economic supports they need to be successful. Mayor de Blasio lauded our College March during his “Equity & Excellence” education address. 

Growth Plan

Several factors point to this moment as the time to expand NYC Outward Bound Schools’ work with the city’s young people and become a more significant presence on the City’s educational landscape. These factors include:

  • Having a strong reputation for quality work.  NYC Outward Bound Schools is very well regarded by officials in the current city administration and has built strong relationships with the current mayoral candidates. The NYC Outward Bound reputation is particularly strong at the NYC Department of Education, where officials are regularly and with increasing frequency requesting opening new schools and working more with them in other ways.
  • Being well-positioned to take on Common Core State Standards. As momentum gains across New York State and the country to better prepare students for 21st-century challenges in college and careers by adopting the Common Core State Standards, NYC Outward Bound Schools is especially well equipped for the shift. The educational model aligns well with the Common Core, as both emphasize critical thinking, performance-based assessment, college-level writing, and higher level skills in the classroom. In fact, the national Expeditionary Learning organization was recently selected to design Common Core-aligned literacy curriculum for the elementary and middle school grades across New York State, including in the city.
  • Providing an approach which aligns well with recent research around character. In particular, Paul Tough’s book, “How Children Succeed,” has brought to light research which demonstrates that character skills like grit, resilience, and curiosity can be a stronger predictor of success in college and other life endeavors than cognitive skills. This research confirms a central tenet of our approach, which is that the development of character skills is as important as the development of academic skills, and that the two go hand-in-hand.

By 2017, NYC Outward Bound Schools will scale its impact by:

  1. Adding four new K-5 and 6-12 grade Expeditionary Learning schools to the network. Once all 15 schools are open and fully enrolled,   7,220 students will be served a year.
  2. Launching a new College To & Through Initiative to ensure graduates from network schools are matched to the right colleges and that they receive the support they need to graduate from college.
  3. Providing Professional Development Programs for Educators enabling best practices from our Expeditionary Learning schools to be applied at NYC public schools outside of the network. NYC Outward Bound projects these programs will reach more than 500 teachers and principals a year from over 150 schools.

As a result of this growth, NYC Outward Bound Schools’ budget will grow by 22% from $5.2M to $6.3M by 2017.

Location of Sites

National Office: 
2946 Northern Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101
Phone: 718.706.9900
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:

New York

Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2014

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$392,510
Foundation Grants: 
$801,107
Government Funding: 
$1,852,774
Contributions from Individuals: 
$435,000
Special Events: 
$1,200,000
Program Services Fees: 
$295,105
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$187,430
Other Revenue (Description): 
Other earned income includes income from rent and payments for services rendered for our national partner Expeditionary Learning. Other revenue is primarily interest and royalties from Outward Bound Professional.
Total Revenue: 
$5,163,926

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$4,147,803
Occupancy: 
$482,522
Travel & Entertainment: 
$344,153
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$147,182
Telephone & Communications: 
$40,004
Payments to Affiliates: 
$89,167
Other Expenses: 
$173,343
Other Expenses (Description): 

Other expenses include food for our programs, liability insurance, payments we make to Expeditionary Learning for professional development,and other miscellaneous expenses.

Other Expenses (Description): 

Other Expenses (Description): 

Other Expenses (Description): 

Other Expenses (Description): 

Other Expenses (Description): 

Total Expenses: 
$5,424,174

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$-260,248

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2016

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$364,682
Foundation Grants: 
$821,564
Government Funding: 
$2,680,351
Contributions from Individuals: 
$476,288
Program Services Fees: 
$439,795
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$158,154
Other Revenue: 
$33,708
Other Revenue (Description): 
Interest & miscellaneous
Special Events: 
$1,478,813
Total Revenue: 
$6,453,355

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$4,822,391
Occupancy: 
$510,484
Travel & Entertainment: 
$396,824
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$202,437
Telephone & Communication: 
$39,201
Payments to Affiliates: 
$87,183
Other Expenses: 
$253,131
Other Expenses (Description): 

Other expenses include insurance, bank & payroll fees, college application fees, etc.

Total Expenses: 
$6,311,651

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$141,704

Major Funders

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Capital One Bank

Forest City Ratner Companies

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Higher Education Services Corporation

News Corporation

Jeffrey J. Feil

Jeffrey and Paula Gural

IAC and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation

Lone Pine Foundation

Maverick Capital Foundation

NYC Council

NYC Department of Education

Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation

Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation

The New York Times Company

Mark Vassallo

Booth Ferris Foundation

State Farm Youth Advisory Board

Cablevision Systems Corporation