One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Prep for Prep, New York, NY
Contact(s): Gary Simons, Founder and Executive Director: (212) 579-1390
Purpose: To develop the leadership potential of young people who are grossly under-represented in the leadership pool that is tapped by all major institutions

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Gary Simons, founder and executive director, began Prep for Prep after 12 years of teaching at a New York City public school in the South Bronx. Prep for Prep creates a challenging atmosphere for his brightest young students and gives them a sense of life's possibilities. Prep for Prep identifies intellectually gifted minority youth and prepares them for placement in New York City's finest independent day schools and East Coast boarding schools. The program provides a sense of community, peer support, critical post-placement services and a range of leadership development opportunities. Through its comprehensive approach, the program instills in its students an understanding of how education empowers people and an awareness of their own individual and collective potential to impact the lives of others. Prep for Prep opened its doors in 1978 with 25 students and three teachers. During the first year in 1979, eleven independent schools committed places and 22 students matriculated from those schools. Today, Prep for Prep directly serves over 1,000 boys and girls, nearly 950 alumni or alumnae, 543 college students and 400 college graduates.

Program Operations

Each year, an aggressive citywide "talent search" selects 215 minority students, including 155 fifth graders and 60 seventh graders. Admitted students begin a rigorous 14-month Preparatory Component, spanning two intensive seven-week summer sessions as well as after-school Wednesday and all-day Saturday classes during the intervening school year. An average of 75 percent of the students successfully complete this program and are placed in independent schools. Each student is carefully placed in an appropriate school chosen from among three dozen day schools and ten boarding schools. These 36 schools commit almost $12 million annually in student scholarships. In 1997-1998, 803 Prep for Prep students were enrolled in over 50 independent schools. Prep for Prep's Post-Placement Counseling and Activities Program ensures that counselors regularly visit the school of each Prep for Prep students in the seventh through tenth-grades and creates a strong peer network among students through organized activities. In addition to continued personal and academic counseling, college counseling and a range of leadership development opportunities are provided for 11th and 12th graders. Prep for Prep also has a Network for Undergraduate Affairs and Professional Advancement which assists over 540 undergraduates who need and want help negotiating the college years. This Network leverages and disseminates career advice for both the undergraduates and 400 college graduates. Prep for Prep alumnus are also instrumental in the Network.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Now entering its third decade, Prep for Prep has prepared thousands of exceptionally gifted and motivated minority youth for academic achievement and successful entry into the leadership pool of the future. This past year, 803 Prep for Prep students were enrolled at such independent schools as Andover, Brearley, Choate, Collegiate, Exeter, Horace Mann and Trinity. In addition, 543 Prep for Prep alumni or alumnae were enrolled in the nation's leading colleges and universities, including Amherst, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Harvard, N.Y.U., University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Stanford, Vassar, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Williams and Yale.

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