Catalyst Academy participants listen to Matt Reid, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, discuss the “unseen majority” of microorganisms in soils and their outsized environmental influence.

Cornell extends partnership with Public Prep in NYC

A Cornell graduate student looks on as Curie participants try their hand at PCR analysis to distinguish cells with different DNA sequences for their research project in biomedical engineering.

Cornell University has extended its partnership to incorporate computer science instruction and opportunities for immersive, on-campus science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) engagement with Public Prep, a New York City nonprofit network that develops tuition-free public pre-K and single-sex elementary and middle schools.

Through the College Completion Initiative, Girls Prep and Boys Prep Bronx middle school scholars, as well as Girls Prep alumnae in high school, will have increased opportunities to pursue week-long, campus-based experiences in which they take college classes, live in dorms and gain exposure to college life at Cornell’s Ithaca campus.

Since 2012, more than 60 Girls Prep middle school scholars have spent a week during summer break in Ithaca taking pre-college classes in veterinary science, physics, filmmaking and science fiction writing.

The expanded partnership includes:

In 2017, Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island selected Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School as a partner in its Teacher in Residence Program (TIR), in which an experienced computer science educator spends one day a week at Girls Prep, meeting with faculty to provide professional and curriculum development and instructional coaching in computing education. Through the TIR program, Cornell Tech aims to bring computing education to 630 Girls Prep middle school scholars. Cornell Tech is a partner of the New York City Department of Education’s CS4All initiative and the national CSforAll Consortium.

Cornell Engineering’s Office of Diversity Programs has agreed to a three-year partnership in which each year six Girls Prep rising 11th or 12th grade alumnae will be given priority consideration for admission to two summer residential engineering programs. The week-long programs, both led by Cornell faculty and graduate students, are Curie Academy (for high school girls who excel in math and science) and Catalyst Academy (designed to attract students from backgrounds underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math).

“This is a welcome partnership because our values are in lockstep. If some of the young women of Girls Prep decide to matriculate at Cornell they will be joining a college that achieved 51 percent female representation for our first-year class that entered in fall 2017 and where the average GPAs in the college are about at parity between men and women. Moreover, in addition to the growing number of underrepresented minority students in Cornell Engineering, they are graduating at a rate of 87 percent with an engineering degree,” said Mark E. Lewis, senior associate dean for diversity and faculty development.

Said Diane Levitt, Cornell Tech senior director of K-12 partnerships: “We are thrilled to work with Public Prep through the Teacher in Residence program. We appreciate and share Girls Prep’s high expectations for their students and their commitment to prepare them for the digital age. In Girls Prep we have found an ideal partner: leadership with vision, committed, highly professional teachers, and students excited about learning.”

Ian Rowe ’85, CEO of Public Prep said: “At Public Prep, we are determined to graduate 8th-grade scholars who thrive in ‘right-fit,’ college-prep public, private or parochial high schools, and ultimately earn a four-year college degree. These pre-college activities at Cornell and Cornell Tech will help our Boys Prep and Girls Prep middle school scholars – and Girls Prep alumnae in high school – accumulate the types of collegiate experiences that better equip them to handle the academic rigor and social transitions necessary to successfully complete college on time.”

In addition to summer college, Girls Prep will also participate in the Cornell Cognition Leadership Study being conducted in partnership with the lab of Katherine Kinzler, associate professor of psychology and human development at Cornell, and the National Coalition of Girls Schools. The study, funded in part by the Cornell Center for the Study of Inequality, aims to explore the benefits of an all-girls education on leadership ideals in elementary students.

Media Contact

Daryl Lovell