A Statement from Founder and CEO, Eva Moskowitz
At Success Academy, we have a powerful approach to anti-racism and DEI that most organizations do not have available to them. Most other organizations have to add in a DEI program because they exist either to make money or to combat some other issue from climate change to health care. But our mission is the essence of anti-racism: We seek to directly counter inequity by providing world-class education to those who would otherwise be denied it.
We have an unwavering belief in the power of children and their capacity to learn and achieve, regardless of race, background or socio-economic status. When children have access to high-quality teaching and learning — and positive, supportive adults who hold them to high expectations — almost anything is within their grasp.
Since our opening in 2006, our scholars have consistently demonstrated this power. Through the commitment of staff and families, Success Academy has delivered educational equity to more than 20,000 scholars, most of them low-income children of color, day after day and year after year. Our scholars are among the highest academically achieving students in New York State, have opportunities to develop artistic, athletic, debate, and chess prowess, and go on to attend some of the most selective colleges and universities in the country.
But there is more to do.
Our DEI Goals
- Radically advance our learning quality and open more schools to serve more students.
We are not fitting DEI and anti-racism into other agendas — it is the agenda — and to accomplish our mission we must stay laser-focused on our school design. Today, with our Moonshot, we will achieve an even more profound level of equity and inclusion.
Our ultimate goal has always been to prepare our scholars to graduate from a four-year college or university. In the modern economy, college graduation is the key to a living wage, to fulfilling potential, and to our scholars taking the reins of power and their places in the world. To ensure that our scholars achieve not only college acceptance, but competitive financial packages, they must be highly prepared.
To do this, we are making a radical change. This year, and for the next three-five years, we are taking a moonshot, to go beyond excellent to extraordinary. Our plan is to achieve an unprecedented level of scholar preparedness, to work backwards from college and the knowledge, life skills, and mindset that an incoming freshman needs to truly succeed. We will create a new K-12 curriculum and a fresh approach to teaching and learning that develops scholars as autonomous, self-assured, sophisticated thinkers. This will require our educators to make a major mindset shift, to fully believe in kids’ capacities and to rethink their teaching practice. But it will immensely enhance their own professional skills, while inspiring and empowering our scholars to take charge of their education and their futures. Ultimately, this radical approach will enable a better, more just society.
The equity gap can be closed, but a critical component of this plan is for us to expand access, to allow more children to have this opportunity. To do this will require us to exert our fullest advocacy muscle and unleash the power of our parents’ voices. Over the next year, perhaps longer, we will focus on pressing for the right to open more new high-quality public charter schools. Today, no new charter schools can open — the charter cap imposed by pressure from the teachers union restricts the number of charter schools, and that number has been reached. The State Legislature will need to be persuaded to lift the cap and allow equity to be reached by all.
- Our goal is to double our scholars’ preparedness and to lift the charter cap to allow 200 more public charter schools to open in New York City so we can meet parent demand and educate more children.
- Invest in a Diverse and Talented Team — and Ensure They Have Opportunities to Develop and Advance Their Careers.
We will continue to maintain SA’s high level of diversity and top talent at our schools and Network office. In 2019, 47% of SA teachers were of color; today, that percentage has grown to 54.5% (compared with 20% nationally). Network diversity has also grown: from 32% POC in 2019 to 41% this year. SA is proud to be a national leader in recruiting, hiring, and developing diverse educators and network staff.
Building on the success of our Career Advancement Initiative, which launched in November 2021, we will continue to build a strong, transparent career progression model, to ensure advancement opportunities and career progression are clearly defined for all staff. When talented teachers of color advance and move up through the ranks of leadership, our principals and other members of school leadership teams become stronger and more diverse. For 2022-23, 64% of newly promoted principals are people of color (POC), more than double the 30% for the previous year.. Across all school leadership promotions, 58% are POC, an increase of 21 percentage points over last year.
At the Network office, we have made similar strides to have greater representation among leadership. Network leadership has also increased, from 21% POC last year to 28% this year.
We will also continue the Mentorship Program, which was piloted in October of 2021 to help junior staff identify and address development areas to further their SA careers. SA is committed to providing visibility into and support for career advancement at all levels of the enterprise. It is critical to building a strong, inclusive workforce.
- Our goal is to maintain high levels of diverse talent and leadership, with people of color making up at least 50% of our total workforce.
- Strengthen Community Belonging and Respect for All.
Respect for others, sensitivity, and a sense of belonging are essential to educating students, partnering with families, and fostering an engaging, inclusive, and productive work environment. We prioritize creating an environment where our differences are acknowledged and respected, where all staff feel welcome, heard, and empowered. Based on feedback from our school and Network engagement surveys, staff approval of SA’s actions to improve our culture of inclusion has increased significantly over the past two years. While we have more work to do, this progress is notable!
We will prioritize parent relationships. The charter school movement empowers parents to choose the school to which they entrust their children, a choice that was once the sole preserve of affluent white families. When it comes time to make that choice, more families of color in New York City choose SA than any other charter school. In a May 2022 survey, 91% of families expressed overall satisfaction with SA, and 94% told us that “the instruction and learning that my child receives at SA is high quality,” and 91% of elementary school families said they would “recommend [SA] to a friend or neighbor.” Guided by data from our most recent parent engagement survey, we will identify specific areas that need improvement and will action them starting this fall.
We will also invest in enhancing student culture, developing students’ respect for each other and their teachers. We will ensure that civility is the norm in the classroom and after school; that they learn to handle conflict with maturity. We will ensure that all students feel that other students and teachers treat them with respect; bullying will not be tolerated.
- Our goal is to maintain high levels of parent, scholar, and staff satisfaction, as measured by regular surveys of all constituents, as we work to radically increase our school quality, grow and expand to serve more scholars, and hire, develop, and promote a more diverse workforce.
Our goal has always been to combat systemic racism and change the world through educational equity. To that end, every SA employee must uphold, foster, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. We seek to reverse racial inequity and upend power dynamics by equipping children of color with a world-class education and advocating for public policies that will allow all families to choose excellent schools for their children.
We have made progress, but we have more work to do. I am committed to doing that work, with you. As founder of Success Academy, I thank you for being part of this important conversation. I am so excited for our next year of work together, making SA a better place today and preparing our students to take their rightful place in the world tomorrow.
Founder & CEO