Achievement First

Our mission is to deliver on the promise of equal educational opportunity for all of America's children.

New Haven, CT   |  www.achievementfirst.org

Mission

The mission of Achievement First is to deliver on the promise of equal educational opportunity for all of America's children. We believe that all children ─ regardless of race, zip code or economic status ─ deserve access to a great education. At Achievement First, our students realize their potential and develop the skills they need to graduate from top colleges, succeed in a competitive world, and serve as the next generation of leaders in our community.

Ruling year info

2004

CEO

Mr. Richard Buery Jr.

Main address

370 James Street, Suite 404

New Haven, CT 06513 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

65-1203744

NTEE code info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Achievement First (AF) exists to address unequal educational opportunities in our country —and the devastating impact those inequities have on the futures of so many young people and communities. As a growing network of 37 non-profit, high-performing, college-preparatory, K-12 public charter schools, AF serves approximately 15,000 students in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. All of our students come to us through blind lottery. The majority are Black, Latinx, and children from low-income families who will be the first in their families to graduate from college. Our students are proving that amazing things happen when potential meets opportunity.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

K-12 Educational Program

AF’s approach to closing the achievement gap for our students is rooted in five key pillars:Focus on student achievement: AF equips our students to perform at the same high levels as their affluent peers—both in their short-term achievement scores and, more importantly, in long-term life outcomes like college graduation. We set clear, high goals, and we accept responsibility for helping our students achieve them.Develop great teachers and leaders: The #1 way AF delivers on this promise is by investing in our educators. Our principals participate in a two-year residency before leading a school. Our new teachers start strong with five weeks of summer professional development. Every teacher and leader has a coach who provides individualized feedback and support.Raise the bar with a high-quality curriculum: AF’s curriculum is based on internationally-benchmarked Common Core standards and geared to true college readiness. Our high school course of study leads to all students taking at least five AP courses.Spend more time learning: AF students benefit from an extended day with additional academic time without short-changing enrichment and physical education.Build strong school cultures: Our schools are based on high expectations, structure, and joy. We work to create schools where all students know they are loved, and all students love learning.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

1. Providing an excellent, gap-closing education for our students
2. Growing to scale to offer our students a K-12 education
3. Strategic partnerships and inspiring district-wide reforms

Current programs: Achievement First’s primary activity is providing a top-quality, college-preparatory educational program for our students. Our educational program features the following six core elements, which serve as the cornerstone of all Achievement First schools.
1. Talent development: Achievement First firmly believes that the most important determinant of student achievement is teacher quality, and we invest heavily in the recruitment, development, recognition and retention of talented teachers. All new Achievement First teachers participate in nearly three weeks of professional development prior to the start of the school year, and we release early on Fridays to provide two hours of staff meeting and learning time. Every Achievement First teacher has a coach who meets with them at least once every two weeks to provide individual support.

2. More time on task: The Achievement First school day is at least 1.5 hours longer and the school year two weeks longer than the traditional public school day and year. Tutoring is also available during and after school.

3. Rigorous curriculum: Achievement First outlines the ambitious academic standards that all students are expected to master at each grade level, so that success in one grade can be seamlessly built on in the next. Teachers understand that “covering material” is not our goal; what is important is student mastery of essential knowledge and skills.

4. Unwavering focus on student achievement: Achievement First is focused on completely closing the achievement gap for our students, and student performance is the chief factor in network, school, principal and teacher evaluations.

5. Strategic use of data and interventions for struggling students: Every six weeks, Achievement First teachers give interim assessments (IAs) that measure student mastery of what has been taught. After each IA, teachers and school leaders spend a “Data Day” dedicated to reviewing the assessment data and together creating data-driven instructional plans that target whole class, small group and one-on-one instruction to address any gaps in student learning.

6. Strong school culture: Immediately upon entering an Achievement First school, you can feel a sense of urgency, order, focus and joy. Key elements of Achievement First’s school culture include: a commitment to character education; a small learning community with teachers who know and care; high expectations and “sweating the small stuff;” an unwavering college focus and continuous exposure to college; parents as partners; and joyful recognitions and celebrations for academic achievement and good behavior.

Achievement First is a growing network of non-profit, high-performing, college-preparatory, K-12 public charter schools, currently operating 37 schools serving more than 15,000 students in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut, Brooklyn, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island. Achievement First’s current strategic plan to maximize our impact in the next five years includes the following four tactics:
1. Creating a strong 'proof point' about what is really possible by continuously improving our performance with an unwavering commitment to both excellence and to serving high-need students well
2. Opening more schools to serve more than 12,000 students across 38 schools, thus demonstrating that gap-closing excellence is possible at 'district' scale
3. Geographically concentrating our growth so that we can, working together with others, transform district practice, family expectations and ultimately, community-wide results
4. Extending our impact through open-source sharing and strategic partnerships with others who are trying to do the same critical work

Achievement First’s Strategic Plan proposes a pace and mode of growth that will both enhance our ability to deliver an excellent education to every student in our network, as well as increase our capacity to have a broader impact in the future. As a result, we believe that, over the next five years, Achievement First will continue to get both better and bigger at the same time.

Excellence: Our first priority is to provide a truly outstanding, gap-closing education for the thousands of students we have the honor and responsibility of working with directly—the kind and caliber of education that will help these students and our urban communities break the cycle of poverty. Achievement First’s academies continue to experience significant academic gains toward achievement gap-closing results. By our capstone grades—fourth, eighth and twelfth —our students are significantly outperforming the host district average and achieving on par with or above the state-wide average at proficiency. Our unique education program includes an extended school day (7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) and features a rigorous, standards-based academic curriculum based upon three and a half hours of literacy instruction and two hours of math instruction every day, coupled with regular interim assessments and supplemental support programs. All Achievement First schools offer an extensive character development program that shapes classroom culture and school-wide expectations based on our REACH values of Respect, Enthusiasm, Achievement, Citizenship and Hard work. Scholars also participate in a variety of voluntary after-school and extracurricular activities that vary at each academy.

Scale: Beyond this direct impact, Achievement First’s theory of change is that by creating the equivalent of a high-performing urban public school “district,” we prove that the achievement gap can be closed at scale in a way that inspires and informs broader district-wide reform efforts. We currently serve over 15,000 students across 37 Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island schools. Our current strategic plan calls for us to expand to 30+ schools, eventually serving more than 12,000 students.

Sustainability: Our network approach creates efficiencies and allows school teams to focus on student achievement. AF has a three-phase strategic plan: Phase I – Start Up: creating a gap closing model, Phase II – Growth: Achieve “District” Scale, Phase III – Maturity: Sustain and Share. As we enter the third phase of our organizational investment, AF is building the systems that support growth and excellence and ensure that our work is sustainable—financially, humanly and institutionally—over the long term.

Financials

Achievement First
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Achievement First

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Andrew Boas

General Partner, Carl Marks Management Co., LP

Term: 2015 - 2022

Anthony Davis

Founder and Managing Partner, Inherent Group, LLC

William Berkley

Chairman and CEO, W.R. Berkley Corporation

Ariela Rozman

Founding Partner, EdNavigator

Thomas Lehrman

Managing Partner, Haystack Partners

K. Percy Ballah

Pastor, Impact Center PVD

Greg Belinfanti

Senior Managing Director, One Equity Partners

William Buck

Treasurer, The Peter & Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation

John Motley

Founder and CEO, Motley Consulting

Valerie Rockefeller

Chair, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Griselda Rodriguez-Solomon

Professor, City University of New York (CUNY)

Anthony Thompson

Professor of Clinical Law, NYU School of Law

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/12/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic (2+ races/ethnicities)
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data