College Achieve Public Schools Named Finalist for $1 Million Education Innovation Prize
The Plainfield school is one of just 64 finalists out of more than 2,000 applicants across the country.
PLAINFIELD, NJ– College Achieve Public Schools (CAPS), a network of K-12 schools in Plainfield, Paterson, Asbury Park and Neptune Township, was named a finalist for the 2023 Yass Prize. The prestigious $1 million prize is considered the “Pulitzer of Education Innovation,” and recognizes education organizations for providing a sustainable, transformational, outstanding and permissionless education. As a finalist, CAPS is guaranteed to receive at least $100,000.
CAPS Central, which opened in the 2015-16 school year, was recognized for its commitment to prepare all students–regardless of background or family resources–to excel in and graduate from the top colleges and universities in the nation. This past year, 100% of students were accepted to college–including top tier universities like Princeton University, Harvard University, and New York University–and the senior class earned more than $13 million in scholarships.
“It has been a challenging last few years for our educators and students, and I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved,” said CAPS Central Executive Director Corri Ravare. “We believe that a great education that takes care of our students’ hearts and minds can disrupt the cycle of poverty, and we won’t rest until each and every one of our students has that opportunity.”
Thirty-one states are represented among the 64 awardees who were evaluated in an intensive, three-tier process. This year’s Yass Prize finalists represent a microcosm of 21st century, personalized approaches that better educate students, pre-K and beyond. They include in-person, hybrid and online approaches, and some schools that offer all three; educational metaverses and AI-driven organizations adding important dimensions to address individualized student needs and education technology organizations with substantive solutions to declining student achievement. All applications underwent a thorough and comprehensive review process, including peer review.
“We founded CAPS on the belief that all students have unique gifts and talents–and if given access to a rigorous college preparatory program, they will soar,” said CAPS Founder Michael Piscal. “With an emphasis on providing an education grounded in character, community, emerging technologies, and an individualized approach, Ms. Ravare and the CAPS Central team are proving us right. This year CAPS Central will send another class off to college prepared to excel and graduate from college in 4 years. This will transform their lives, their families and communities. We are passionate about teaching our scholars how to think for themselves, dream big, and develop a college-graduating mindset.”
Seventy percent of CAPS Central students identify as Latino, 30% identify as Black and 74% fall below the poverty line. CAPS students are required to take at least three Advanced Placement classes–out of 16 offered–throughout their high school career, and this year’s graduating class took an average of 5.3. This is in stark contrast to the state of New Jersey, where 34.5% of students are enrolled in one or more AP courses. For Black and Hispanic students in the state the numbers are even lower, with 18.0% and 22.1% taking at least one AP course, respectively.
Additionally, CAPS Central’s growth rates defied the COVID-19 slump. Scores on the NJ State Learning Assessments exam (NJSLA) were among the best in the state of New Jersey in math and English Language Arts: 99th percentile for ELA and the 91st percentile for Math. The rates demonstrate a percentile ranking of each school based on the year-over-year change in proficiency rate. The school’s Black, Hispanic and Economically Disadvantaged students all improved by double digits in English Language Arts (ELA), steadily closing the achievement gap as it widened post-COVID for their peers across the state.
The Yass Prize will disburse at least $20 million to education providers this year. The winner will be announced in December. All 64 awardees are listed on the Yass Prize website at YassPrize.org/Awardees.
College Achieve Public Schools (CAPS) is a network of K-12 schools in Paterson, Plainfield, Asbury Park and Neptune Township that was created to serve youth who have enormous potential but limited resources. Its mission is to prepare all students to excel in and graduate from the top colleges and universities in the nation. For more information about our schools and how to enroll, visit us at collegeachieve.org/enrollment.