Rewarding Achievement (REACH) and Baruch College Launch Free Advanced Placement Workshops for Students at 31 Inner-City High Schools in New York City

LEARN, EARN, WIN! Brings Top National and Regional AP Experts and Instructors to Help Low-Income Students Prepare for Challenging AP Exams

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New York, NY – March 8, 2008 – Rewarding Achievement (REACH), the innovative pay-for-performance education reform initiative of The Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) and The Pershing Square Foundation, has announced a unique collaboration with Baruch College of the City University of New York to launch LEARN, EARN, WIN!, a series of free Saturday workshops to help low-income and minority students at 31 participating REACH high schools prepare for challenging Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Most colleges and universities give college credit or advanced standing for scores of 3 or better on AP exams.

On eight Saturdays from March 8th through May 10th, REACH will offer free prep sessions for six of the most challenging and popular AP exams taken by students at the 31 REACH schools: Biology, Calculus, English Language, English Literature, U.S. History and U.S. Government & Politics. For each of the six, there will be three full-day comprehensive prep sessions taught by national AP experts and leading instructors, providing students and their teachers with subject knowledge and test-taking tips and resources in preparation for the AP exams in May. The workshops will be held at the midtown campus of Baruch College, one of the premier senior colleges in the CUNY system.

“Low-income and minority students are often at a disadvantage when it comes to preparing for AP exams – for example, studies show that 70% of NYC high school students hold part-time jobs,” said the founder of the REACH program, hedge fund manager and education reformer Whitney Tilson. “The REACH program and its LEARN, EARN, WIN! test prep sessions are intended to help level the playing field and give highly motivated, hard-working REACH students the best chance to demonstrate their mastery of college-level work.”

“AP exam scores of 3 or better are solid predictors of college success and graduation, yet painfully few African American and Latino high school students are scoring well enough to show colleges that they are prepared to succeed at the next level,” commented Edward Rodriguez, executive director of REACH, which aims to improve the college readiness and graduation rates of low-income students, especially those from ethnic and racial groups that are underrepresented in higher education. “By connecting students at the participating REACH schools with some of the leading AP instructors in the country, LEARN, EARN, WIN! will help these ambitious young men and women prepare for college-level academic rigor and future success in an increasingly global economy.”

In addition to supporting student achievement, the LEARN, EARN, WIN! workshops aim to benefit AP teachers at the REACH schools, paying them stipends to participate in the program and giving them the opportunity to network and share strategies and quality resources with national experts and fellow REACH teachers. Collectively, participating students and teachers will have an opportunity to work with accomplished instructors who have distinguished themselves in the field of Advanced Placement education, including AP test development committee members, AP exam readers, assistant chief readers, authors of widely used review materials and authors of College Board publications.

LEARN, EARN, WIN! will also offer participating students free lunch and will raffle door prizes, including iPods and gift certificates. “Once again, I applaud The Council of Urban Professionals and The Pershing Square Foundation for stepping up to the plate to help low-income students achieve at the highest level,” said Joel I. Klein, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. “Innovative collaborations like LEARN, EARN, WIN! can help us move the needle significantly, and provide our students and teachers with the added resources they need to succeed.”

“Baruch College provides students from every corner of New York City – and around the world–with opportunities to achieve academic excellence,” commented Kathleen M. Waldron, president of Baruch College. “This collaboration with REACH enables Baruch to use our stateof-the-art facilities and classrooms and central location for the benefit of future college students.”

“The Council of Urban Professionals has undertaken this important initiative because we understand how important it is to close the achievement gap, and we are committed to supporting students and educators in doing so,” remarked Tarrus Richardson, Chairman of CUP. “REACH is making a major investment in our young people to try to increase the number of low-income students who pass AP exams. We want to see every young person with big dreams and a strong work ethic reach his or her potential.”

REACH was launched in the beginning of this school year at 31 New York City high schools –including six Bronx parochial schools – to improve the college readiness of low-income and minority students by offering financial incentives to students and schools based on performance on AP exams. The program will give financial awards of $500, $750 and $1,000 to students at participating high schools who earn an AP exam score of 3, 4 or 5, respectively, and, for incremental passes, a matching amount to the participating schools. All AP exams qualify for financial rewards, with the exception of the six foreign language exams. REACH was launched with $1 million in seed funding from The Pershing Square Foundation.

Gregg Fleisher, national AP director at the National Math and Science Initiative, consulted in designing LEARN, EARN, WIN!, which is modeled after an important component of the highly successful AP Strategies program in Dallas, Texas. Fleisher spearheaded AP Strategies, which, over the course of 10 years, helped produce an exponential increase in the number of high school students taking and passing AP exams.

“It is encouraging and exciting to see our business community and our universities team up to support New York City students with opportunities to excel academically,” said Ernest Logan, president of New York’s Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA). “The energy and commitment of CUP and The Pershing Square Foundation will no doubt add value to the hard work of our students and educators.”

“As a society, we don’t celebrate enough those moments when our young people are doing the right thing,” noted the Hon. Darryl C. Towns, New York state assemblyman from the 54th Assembly District in Brooklyn (Bushwick, Cypress Hills, East New York), and chairperson of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. “Participation in LEARN, EARN, WIN! demonstrates how hungry our young people – especially poor and minority students – are for upward social mobility and the opportunity to share in the American Dream. My colleagues in the Caucus know that we need more initiatives like these in our communities, and we support REACH’s efforts.”

“LEARN, EARN, WIN! is part of REACH’s commitment to not only incentivize students through its pay-for-performance model, but to also invest in long-term solutions – like the prep sessions – to enhance and improve AP programs in schools,” said Chloe Drew, vice president of CUP. “We’re excited that more than 500 students have already pre-registered online to participate.”

Pershing Square founder William Ackman added, “We’re delighted to invest in the LEARN, EARN, WIN! program because we appreciate how critical it is for all students to develop the intellectual capital they will need to compete successfully in college and beyond.”

About REACH

Rewarding Achievement (REACH) (www.reachnyc.org) is an education reform initiative of The Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) (www.nycup.org), a New York-based nonprofit organization whose members are primarily minority professionals, and The Pershing Square Foundation, the philanthropic arm of New York investment firm Pershing Square Capital Management. CUP's mission is to advance the agenda of urban professionals and their communities with a special emphasis on increased business opportunities, economic development, leadership development and education reform. CUP is particularly motivated to improve educational opportunities for young people, especially low-income African-American and Latino children.