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Over the Past Decade, a Staggering 110,000 Children have Applied to Success Academy

April 11, 2016

Contact: Dan Bank, (212) 681-1380

[email protected]

The network has 3,228 available seats, the most ever, but still must place more than 17,000 children on wait lists


New York, NY ― New York City parents entered more than 20,000 children into this year’s Success Academy admissions lottery, bringing the total number of applications received over the last decade to more than 110,000. Parents’ wait to see if their child will receive a seat is almost over: the public charter network is scheduled to mail results to families today.

Driven largely by the lack of high-quality options among district schools and inspired by Success Academy’s extraordinary track record of achievement, families from every corner of New York City — representing all 32 school districts and the attendance zones of 668 different elementary schools — entered this year’s admissions lottery.

Among those who applied, 3,228 will receive a letter offering them one of the network’s available seats. Yet more than 17,000 families — who are now on the waiting list — will face disappointment.  

“While we are always excited about high demand for the limited seats we're able to provide, the unfortunate reality is that government regulations prevent us from meeting the needs of all 20,000 families seeking our schools,” said Success Academy founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz. “We are committed to opening more new schools — and giving all parents the real choice in their children’s education.

Success will  open five new elementary schools in August 2016, which will serve about 750 students in kindergarten and first grade:

  • Brooklyn: The network will open SA Bed-Stuy 3, providing another excellent school option for families in one of the city’s most educationally disadvantaged neighborhoods. Success will also open schools in Bushwick and Flatbush – other areas where parents are clamoring for more choices.
  • Queens: SA South Jamaica furthers the network’s commitment to expanding parent choice in southeast Queens. The network will also open SA Far Rockaway.   

Yet, even with the introduction of the new schools, demand for seats is still far outpacing supply – as it has for 10 consecutive years. Many parents have had to apply for several years before their child finally wins a seat.

“I entered the Success Academy lottery for three straight years, starting when my son was in first grade,” recalls Vanessa Velez, parent of a Success Academy Bed-Stuy Middle School fifth grader. “When he was finally accepted as a third grader, I felt so grateful. It was worth the wait. He loves school and participates in extracurriculars like dance and photography. Before SA, he was not challenged in our district school. I’m so happy with the education he’s receiving today.”

This year, the network instituted an admissions preference for English Language Learners after successfully reversing the efforts of federal policymakers who attempted to prohibit such a preference. About 12% of this year’s accepted students are ELLs.

In 19 of the city’s 32 school districts, at least 500 children were entered into the Success Academy lottery. The highest application totals came from District 9 in the South Bronx (more than 1,600) and District 29 in southeastern Queens (more than 1,400).

In Central Harlem, 1 out of every 2 age-eligible kindergartners applied to a Success Academy school. In seven other school districts across Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, at least 1 out of every 5 age-eligible kindergartners applied.

While Success Academy serves primarily children of color from low-income households, the network continues to create more schools with diverse populations. At SA Bensonhurst, for example, about half of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. More than 600 children from the school district applied to attend.

Among all applicants to Success Academy, 73% are zoned to a school where at least 2 out of 3 students are below grade level in math. Just over 12% of applicants are zoned to a school where at least half of all students are doing math on grade level.



  • In 4 of the 6 school districts in the borough, at least 1,000 children were entered into the SA lottery
  • In District 9, part of the South Bronx, 1,600 children were entered into the SA lottery -- the most of any district.


  • Of the more than 650 District 21 residents entered into the lottery, 29% are English Language Learners.
  • More than 1,800 children in Brooklyn were entered into the lottery for kindergarten or first grade at one of Success Academy’s new elementary schools in the borough: SA Flatbush, SA Bushwick, or SA Bed-Stuy 3


  • The attendance zones of just 7 district elementary schools where less than 10% of  students do math on grade level accounted for nearly 500 applicants to SA
  • 660 children from District 2 -- where many traditional public schools are high-performing, but racially segregated -- were entered into the Success Academy lottery


  • SA is opening two new elementary schools next year in District 27 (SA Far Rockaway and SA South Jamaica). Nearly 1,000 children from the district were entered into the SA lottery this year, or 130% more than last year.
  • In District 29 in southeast Queens, 1 out of 4 age-eligible kindergartners entered the lottery this year.   



Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public pre-K through 12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 34 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 11,000 students, primarily low-income children of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 95% are children of color, 13% are children with disabilities, and 8.5% are English language learners. Ranked in the top 1% in math and the top 3% in English on 2015 state proficiency tests, Success Academy schools received more than 22,000 applications for fewer than 2,300 open seats last year. Two Success Academy schools, Success Academy Harlem 1 and Harlem 3, have been honored as National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education, the only Harlem schools in the last 25 years to receive this prestigious award.

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