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The evening honored friend & advocate NYC Council Member Rita Joseph, Chair of the Committee on Education.

On Monday, May 20, NYC Outward Bound Schools hosted its annual fundraising Gala, honoring NYC Council Member Rita Joseph, Chair of the Committee on Education, for her deep commitment to NYC’s students and continued advocacy for our work.

The student-led event was co-hosted by Hilary Chery, a junior at Kurt Hahn and Donovan Dargan, a junior at the Community School for Social Justice (CSSJ).

Hilary and Donovan joined Corey V. Sapp, a Dean and Social Studies teacher at CSSJ and this year’s R. Gaynor McCown Excellence in Teaching Award winner, in sharing personal stories of impact with attendees. This narrative presentation touched on the many ways NYC Outward Bound Schools helps foster community, belonging, and perseverance among students, and supports educators to teach curriculum that is powerful and relevant to students.

Jennifer Lopez, a 2018 graduate of WHEELS and a participant in The Big Rappel, took attendees on a journey to the top of the Empire State Building with head-spinning footage of the rappel, and led the evening’s pledge drive.

In total, the Gala campaign raised over $1.1M that goes toward NYC Outward Bound Schools’ critical work to provide equitable, immersive and joyful learning experiences to students in NYC’s public schools. The organization does this by coaching educators and school leaders to integrate instruction for deeper learning into their classrooms, by supporting the implementation of Crew advisory, and by providing outdoor adventure programming to students.

Click to enlarge and scroll through select photos:

As a forever educator in New York City public schools with two decades of teaching experience, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of giving students a voice and a choice in their education. When we allow students to take ownership of their learning, we not only engage their minds, but also their hearts, fostering a sense of purpose and belonging that is the core of what NYC Outward Bound Schools achieves with their innovative practices.

Council Member Rita Joseph

Educational Leadership Award Recipient

Many thanks to our Gala Chairs and Vice Chairs!

Gala Chairs

Vicki & David Foley

Jeffrey & Paula Gural

Alphonse Lembo

Pamela & Gifford Miller

Nancy & Burt Staniar

Gala Vice Chairs

David Dase & Jacqueline Flake

Patricia L. Francy

LaRue Gibson/LRG Wealth Advisors

Jane Greenman

Timothy Greensfelder & Sari Granat

Jonathan Miller, Miller Ryan, LLC

Sue & Ravi Yadav

Watch videos from the Gala:

2024 Gala Honoree, Rita Joseph

NYC Council Member Rita Joseph, Chair of the Committee on Education, reflects on her 20 years of teaching experience and explains why she believes in centering student voice and choice in education.

Stories of Impact

Hear personal stories of community, perseverance and revolution from student speakers Donovan Dargan, an 11th grader at CSSJ and Hilary Chery, an 11th grader at Kurt Hahn, along with Corey Sapp, this year’s Gaynor McCown Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient.

Alumna Speaker, Jennifer Lopez

2018 WHEELS graduate Jennifer Lopez shares how NYC Outward Bound Schools impacted her life — from facilitating her first Outward Bound trip to North Carolina in high school, to participating in the Big Rappel at the Empire State Building in 2024.

A Snapshot of Life at Leaders High School

Follow along as a Crew of students at Leaders High School, a NYC Outward Bound school in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, present their PBATs (performance-based assessment tasks), attend a rock climbing program, and discuss postsecondary planning in Crew — all touch points of NYC Outward Bound School’s work.

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