Beginning with Children (BwC) is a small network of free public charter schools with a big purpose, founded on our deep belief in the power of education to transform a child, a family, a community. Our network focuses on our students’ academic growth while creating nurturing and robust educational environments infused with rich art and music programming and a deep commitment to experiential learning.
Founded in 1992, Beginning with Children was a catalyst for a movement that changed the landscape of public education and has proved that success is not limited by zip-code.
Beginning with Children was founded on our deep belief in the power of education to transform – a child, a family, a community. Our K-8 schools are located in communities where roughly a third of all families earn less than $25,000 per year. Our hard-working families, facing high rates of low-wage employment, are finding it increasingly difficult to break the cycle of poverty and continuing injustice which plagues their neighborhoods. Education can break the cycle. Education opens doors and allows children to see beyond their challenges. We give every child an equal chance to be well-educated in a free public school with excellent resources, from Kindergarten through college. Our children succeed. With each child’s success, we leave the world a better place than we found it.
Anita Ames is just one of our many success stories. Growing up in a low-income housing project in Brooklyn, with a single parent working hard to make ends meet, Anita was an angry child who found school difficult and frustrating. With support from her teachers in a Beginning with Children charter school, Anita continued on to high school, participating, reluctantly at first, in the BwC alumni Legacy Program. Through the Program, Anita began to exhibit leadership qualities and found her passion for writing. She attended the University of Albany, graduated and joined the Peace Corps. After two years of giving back globally, Anita decided to return to her Brooklyn roots and is now an assistant teacher at a Brooklyn charter school. According to Anita, “It’s not where you are from, rather where you are going that matters. Beginning with Children created opportunities for me to achieve my dreams.”
In 2013, our Legacy Program for alumni continued to yield stellar on time high school graduation and college acceptance results of 100% and 97%, respectively. The average high school graduation rate for students like ours in NYC is close to 60% and only 30% are accepted to college. Improving educational outcomes not only puts our students on the path to success but helps our city by lowering crime and providing a more stable job force. I’m proud to share that, in 2013, our Legacy alumni continued to be accepted to the most selective colleges and universities including Barnard College, Boston University, Brown University, Colgate University, George Washington University, Lehigh University, Macaulay Honors College at City College, MIT, University of Chicago, and Vassar College as well as CUNY and SUNY schools and honors programs. These recent alumni, like Anita, will help ensure the viability and vibrancy of our city.
In 1990, Joe and Carol Reich saw too many families in New York City without access to strong, safe, and nurturing schools in their communities.
They decided to do something. Focusing on the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, the Reich’s navigated the bureaucratic labyrinth of the Department of Education, eventually establishing Beginning with Children Charter School in 1992.
Their work ignited a movement that reshaped the landscape of public education and gave families in underserved neighborhoods an alternative to their local school.