Steven and Alex Cohen Foundation Provide Monumental Gift to TEP
The Equity Project Charter School Receives $3 Million Gift from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation to Support Music Instruction for Disadvantaged Latino Youth
October 21, 2014, New York City -- The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School announced that the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation has made a $3 million donation to the school, a 480-seat public middle school that serves predominantly low income, at-risk, Latino students in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.
The donation will be used to construct a state of the art music floor for the school’s new facility, supporting TEP’s special emphasis on rigorous, daily music instruction as an integral part of its curriculum.
“The Cohens’ extraordinary generosity will help provide the gift of music to TEP students for generations to come at a time of dwindling funding for arts education,” said Zeke Vanderhoek, TEP Founder and Principal. “This gift underscores the belief that arts education is essential for all students, including those most at-risk.”
“Steven and I are thrilled to support TEP in Washington Heights, a community close to my heart because it is where I grew up. TEP placed in the top 10 percent of all New York City middle schools, while functioning in trailers that were set up as classrooms. Imagine what the students and the school will be able to do in this new facility,” said Alexandra Cohen, President of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. “We hope that our gift will help TEP advance its mission to offer unparalleled arts and music education to its students, preparing them to thrive in many of Manhattan’s most selective high schools.”
All students at TEP are required to take daily music classes, learn an instrument, and perform in a musical group such as concert band, keyboard ensemble, or choir. The music floor of the new facility will include music classrooms and a performance space for TEP's instrumental and choral programs. The 300-seat performance space is being specially designed for high-quality acoustics and recording and will also be available to the local Washington Heights and Inwood communities in upper Manhattan.
Currently housed in aging and cramped trailers originally intended as temporary classrooms, TEP is building a new facility to fulfill its programmatic vision and showcase the TEP model for schools and districts across the country. The school relies solely on public funding for all of its operating costs; it fundraises only for its planned facility.
“The Cohen Family’s gift – the largest of our campaign to date – brings TEP’s vision one step closer to full fruition,” said Leo Hindery, Jr., the chairman of TEP’s Capital Campaign Committee. “Their great generosity to the educational needs of our City's youth is both inspiring and humbling.”
The new facility will be built on a vacant site in Upper Manhattan, just half a mile from TEP’s current classroom trailers. The school aims to break ground on construction in the fall of 2015.
Opened in September 2009, TEP is succeeding in closing the Latino-White achievement gap. In 2013, TEP was the #1 ranked independent charter middle school in New York City. TEP’s mission is to achieve educational equity for disadvantaged students by utilizing master teachers to provide rigorous academics, arts, and athletics instruction. Unusual for a middle school, TEP gives all student daily classes in both music and physical education. Learn more at www.tepcharter.org.
ABOUT THE STEVEN & ALEXANDRA COHEN FOUNDATION
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation is committed to achieving lasting and meaningful change in our community through four main areas of focus: education, children’s health, veterans, and the arts. The Foundation places an emphasis on improving the lives of children through education reform and healthcare initiatives, providing help to our returning heroes with mental health and employment programs for veterans, and supporting the arts that inspire us all. Learn more at www.steveandalex.org.