The Ali Way

 Dolores Huerta, one of the GREATS ™.    She is a labor and civil rights leader who has fought for workers', immigrants, and women's rights, resulting in higher wages for all workers. 

Dolores Huerta, one of the GREATS™.   She is a labor and civil rights leader who has fought for workers', immigrants, and women's rights, resulting in higher wages for all workers. 

What makes Ali Academy special?  Primarily four elements:

  1. Individualized Instruction & Support
    • Scholars not only have individualized schedules but also have significant opportunities to select how much time to spend on specific courses.  Through the use of ipads, laptops, and stations scholars can move faster or slower at a personalized pace.  Teachers setup different stations in each classroom where scholars can receive differentiated instruction, e.g. listening center, where there are readings on tape for scholars struggling with fluency; A small group discussion center, where scholars lead small reading groups; a writing center, where scholars engage in research papers and peer editing via Google Docs; and an advancement center, where scholars who are ahead of the class can get work that extends concepts or allows for independent inquiry on related topics.  This differentiation allows for true rigor – Challenge based on individual levels of current skill.
    • Every scholar has a coach.  Coaches have weekly check-ins (More if necessary), help develop long and short term social-emotional and academic goals, identify action steps, review weekly progress and share with families, conduct home visits, and lead the drafting of behavior intervention plans.  Coaches have trained counselors or social workers and identify presenting problems and work with scholars to help work through them.  All of this data will be available to scholars and staff through Greatness Plans (GP) so that scholars can also monitor their own progress. All staff members, especially scholar coaches, are be able to see what any scholar is working on at any time, see their behavior intervention plans, see the action steps they are working on, and see the short and long term goals scholars are working towards.  Senior cohorts will all have the same coach who will be responsible for the final execution of all post-graduation plans including parent trainings, college applications, certifications and licensure, financial aid, and regular check-ins with graduates to assess their post-graduation success and needs.
  2. Career Development & Institution Building
    • Every scholar chooses a career pathway.  Initially the school will start with culinary, music production, and kinesiology/personal fitness training.  We will expand to include cosmetology, graphic arts, coding, and accounting.  Scholars will be required to take an industry recognized technical assessment for licensure and/or certification in one of these marketable areas.  Every year scholars is enrolled in an entrepreneurship class that will help them develop the graduation requirement of a business plan as part of their capstone project.  Scholars will not only develop the plan but will seek to establish businesses in their junior and senior year of high school.  Scholars will visit two career sites every year; and will experience at least one, two month internship.
    • Business plans will be supported after high school graduation and after college graduation in order to develop actual community-run institutions e.g. grocery stores, restaurants, financial institutions, movie theaters, local political organizations etc.
  3. Character Development
    • We believe strong character leads to more successful human beings.  Ali Academy scholars strive to be among the GREATS
      Giving, Respectful, Ever-curious, Always optimistic, Tenacious, and Spiritually self-disciplined.   
      • Giving - Part with goods and benefits for the sake of those around you, your community, and your world.  Relinquish self interest at times for the interest of others. Be charitable in your assumptions for others.  Be helpful and seek to empower others.
      • Respectful - Be kind and eager to make others happy. Be considerate of how others feel. Honor the shared humanity of all people.  Honor the cleanliness, purity, and needs of our shared environment inside and outside of the school.  Honor all life. 
      • Ever-Curious - Be eager to understand and question.  Reflect and reconsider on past thoughts, events, and actions.  Seek out information from multiple sources.  Try new things.  Always seek the truth for self and others.
      • Always Optimistic - Acknowledge that there is always a solution and work to uncover them.  Balance doubt with hope.  Even when quietly distressed, forever believe that everything is possible.
      • Tenacious - Seek greatness in everything that you do.  Set excellence as your bar. Be uncomfortable with mediocrity.  Act as if you were born to do something great.  Never give up especially when faced with challenge and difficulty.  Work hard. 
      • Spiritually Self-Disciplined - Acknowledge something greater than oneself.  Act with an inner sense of morality no matter who is or is not watching.  Take action out of a sense of righteousness and truth even when it is difficult, burdensome to do so, or easier to take a less righteous or less truthful path.  Live truth and speak it despite all temptations not to.
    • Our advisory curriculum is our primary training ground for great character.  Scholars are introduced to character values and are provided opportunities to actually practice and discuss the corresponding actions.  Advisories will head our community service program.  Scholars are required to do 100 hours of community service before they graduate and at least ten hours every year.  Every year advisories will lead four community service initiatives to teach scholars about the need to be considerate of others and how that consideration develops your character and informs your actions.  Advisories will also be the launching pad for the two college visits and two career site visits every year. 
    • Every scholar must participate in at least one sport.  This work is holistic.  We must address the physical needs of our scholars as well as their intellectual and emotional ones.  Sports help to develop Self-discipline and a healthy competitive nature whereby scholars learn to strive to be better.  They learn to be Tenacious, endure hardship, and struggle through obstacles. 
  4. Critical Thinking
    • There will be artistic (Poetic, visual or graphic, theatric, photographic, or musical) expression of content knowledge in every course.  We believe that artistic expression, and out-of-the-box thinking, is key for scholars to be critical thinkers, to make knowledge their own, willfully engage in content, and to develop an intrinsic love of learning.
    • In Brownsville 79% of the population is African American and 20% is Latino.  Our school must be responsive to the community it serves.  Therefore it must teach about the ancestries, the contributions, the struggles, and successes of that community.    Units of study will include the exploration of African American and Latino contributions in all subject areas as well as how content has and can shape the communities from which our students come.  We will not create programing for one month, or for one course alone, but will systematically tie in culturally relevant material in math, science, ELA, social studies, art and career pathways that bolsters understanding of and interest in the content.  Scholars must participate in four social justice debates every year.  The culturally relevant curricula will allow scholars to include an analysis of race and class as part of their capstone projects.

See how Ali addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goals: 


  • Goal 1: No Poverty - End poverty in all its forms.  In Brownsville, more than 54% of children live in families under the poverty line.   Brownsville also has the lowest life expectancy of any district in New York City.  It has the highest rate of violence, and the second highest rate of incarceration in the City (New York Daily News). 
    • By achieving our goal of 100% graduation, we drastically change the life trajectory of young people living in Brownsville, New York.  We expand life opportunities by opening the door to college and enabling students to boot strap themselves out of poverty by developing actionable business ideas and plans. 






  • Goal 4:  Quality Education.  Only 43% of students in Brownsville graduate from high school compared with 84% of students nation-wide (
    • 100% of Ali scholars will graduate and have at least two college acceptances in addition to an actionable business plan.  Through individualized instruction and scholar coaches we will meet students where they are in order to improve their achievement and make them college and career ready through relevant, and real applications of learning. 










  • Goal 8:  Decent Work & Economic Growth.  Less than half of the working-aged adults in Brownsville have jobs (New York Daily News). 
    • Our career pathways directly work to ensure that all scholars not only have the skills necessary to secure gainful employment, but the know-how to become entrepreneurs in their own community and employ others thereby improving the conditions in the entire neighborhood.