Can sports and dance programs enhance a college-going culture?

In 2019, we made catalytic investments in programs that successfully combine sports and the arts to spur interest in academics and college readiness. 

Since 2005, New Heights has been operating out of shared office space and rented basketball courts and classroom space to operate its programs. As it has grown, New Heights has searched for a permanent and centralized home facility to scale up its athletic and academic programming. They recently finalized a 30-year lease agreement to relocate to the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. We anchored this capital campaign as the first major foundation funder. New Heights has outstanding results with 100% high school graduation rates, 100% college matriculation rates, 100% college persistence from year one to year two, and 86% of alumni currently enrolled in four-year colleges on track to graduate within six years.

ROW New York is one of the most successful outcomes-driven sports and college prep and persistence programs in New York City. Its programming consists of a year-round mix of competitive rowing instruction and individualized academic support including college-readiness workshops, formal check-in points during students’ first year, visiting students on campus, and connecting students to on-campus resources. ROW New York maintains stellar metrics with an impressive record of 95% of students matriculating to college, an 89% first-year completion rate, and an 85% college graduation rate within six years. We played a central role in the successful efforts of ROW to plan and construct a new community boathouse and learning center which will greatly expand its programs for underserved youth.

STEM From Dance (SFD) delivers school residencies and summer programs in which the art form of dance is used to introduce girls of color ages 12 to 18 to computer science. Participants choreograph a dance that is enhanced with a technological component they learn to code throughout the program. This could be a synchronized animation that serves as a digital backdrop, a musical composition created through coding, or a costume with programmed LED lights to accompany choreography. SFD aims to use the confidence built from dance to prepare minority girls for the social and academic challenges that lie ahead in STEM.

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