ELiTE Education’s ELiTE Education is a profiled program in the Plugging In Report.
Who is served: Middle and high school students in Harlem, East Harlem, and Washington Heights. Among participants, 96 percent are Black or Latinx; 70 percent or more are eligible for free and reduced price lunch.
Number of participants: 348
Location: 3 middle and high schools in West Harlem/District 5: UA Academy for Future Leaders MS (M286) Frederick Douglass Academy MS/HS (M499) UA Academy for Social Action HS (M367)
4 middle and high schools in East Harlem/District 4: Manhattan Center for Science and Math HS (M435) The Lexington Academy MS (M072) Isaac Newton MS (M825) Renaissance School of the Arts MS (M377)
Boys and Girls Club of Harlem Google CodeNext, Harlem
Frequency/Duration: Twice-weekly co-teaching in middle and high schools One hour per week of instructional coaching for CS, technology, and engineering teachers throughout the school year. 4 hours per month of leadership coaching and management support for middle and high schools
Eligibility Criteria: Currently only working with schools in Districts 4, 5, and 6.
Curriculum: ELiTE delivers services to middle and high schools through 4 pathways. First, it increases CS/technology/engineering teacher capacity by providing curricula as well as instructional coaching, and by bringing in student teaching fellows with CS/technical expertise to co-teach twice a week. Secondly, ELiTE helps school leaders increase their benchmarks for student performance, enabling the “more rigorous profile in the maths and sciences” required of college STEM majors, according to ELiTE founder Chelsey Roebuck.
A school’s college and guidance counselors also receive support in preparing students for STEM-focused degrees and careers, such as through ELiTE-led summer bridge programs before students enter high school, as well as weekly after-school programming throughout the school year. In 6th grade, the curriculum focuses on basic computational thinking skills, often with math remediation (in most of the schools ELiTE works with, students are 1 to 3 grade levels behind in math and ELA). 7th and 8th grade brings an introduction to physical computing (using electronics and circuits, but also computers to program those electronics and circuits).
K–5 students are reached through ELiTE’s Lego Robotics partnership as well as through Out of School Time programming in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem, whose K–5 program staff received STEM-focused professional development from ELiTE staff.
Outcomes: Roebuck estimates approximately 20–30 students per year from ELiTE programs go into rigorous CS or engineering college/university programs at schools including Hunter College and City College. ELiTE tries to be “intentional about connecting [students] to pathways where they can apply [CS skills] in industry,” said Roebuck. That includes everything from “connecting them to research labs or opportunities where they can use computer science as their way into a biomedical-engineering, chemistry or mechanical engineering lab.” ELiTE also tries to connect students to industry-focused opportunities or internships, from summer programs like All Star Code and Girls Who Code (which has internship programs at companies like Goldman Sachs), to supporting students through their own technical internships (a graduating senior who attended ELiTE programs is a technology intern at Bloomberg for the third straight summer).
The organization is also tracking several engagement metrics (number of students served, hours served in various types of programs) and impact metrics (grit, confidence, interest in science/engineering) through daily attendance records and pre- and post-program surveys.
Partnerships: District 5: UA Academy for Future Leaders MS (M286), Frederick Douglass Academy MS/HS (M499), UA Academy for Social Action HS (M367); District 4: Manhattan Center for Science and Math HS (M435), The Lexington Academy MS (M072), Isaac Newton MS (M825), Renaissance School of the Arts MS (M377)
Community Program Partners: Boys and Girls Club of Harlem, Google CodeNext, NYC FIRST Robotics, Facebook TechStart
Sources of funding: Mixed; City funding (DYCD), individual schools, corporation/foundation grants, earned revenue for curriculum development, program development, and training sessions.
What makes the program stand out? ELiTE is unique in its comprehensive approach to school partnerships. The organization guides school leaders and guidance counselors, and offers professional development in computer science and engineering education for teachers, while also providing after-school computer science classes at schools, a variety of CS programs at the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, and internship/college/career guidance. Together, these efforts help create a clearer pathway into the tech industry for students from non-traditional backgrounds. “Imposter syndrome is real,” said Roebuck. Underrepresented students “really do need to be able to see, experience, and appreciate that they fit in and belong in these environments, and that they can be successful in these environments. And the only way to do it is through hands-on practical experience.”
What do participants need to succeed? Programming that goes beyond a one-off CS class, and a clear pathway into those other programs. Guidance around internships, industry opportunities and college. Also extra support in math and ELA.
What does the organization need?
Also, a clearer route to collaborating with the DOE, and more incentive among different DOE buckets (such as the Algebra team, CS team, STEM team) to work together: ”We can have 1 initiative and have it funded by 3 or 4 different [DOE] teams or offices. There doesn’t really seem to be a clear, streamlined way or process to make that happen currently in the DOE, at least through their channels.”
Roebuck also said that demand is always greater than their capacity to staff or fundraise since they try to keep schools’ contribution to a program’s cost to less than 35%.