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What is Crew?

Crew is our signature advisory structure that supports social, emotional and academic development.

When implemented school-wide, Crew is also a powerful culture and ethos. The spirit of “We are crew, not passengers” — a phrase coined by Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn — fosters belonging for the entire school and empowers students and staff alike to show up as and share their authentic selves. Crew is at its best when students are engaged in both its design and implementation. Student voice is centered, fostered and supported, so their capacity to lead and advocate for themselves grows over time.

Every school should adopt the NYC Outward Bound Schools model of building critical relationships to make sure that kids know that they’re never alone, and that we do everything we can to meet the needs of the whole child.

Mark Treyger

Former NYC Council Member

What happens in Crew?

Crews are made up of approximately 10-16 students and led by an adult Crew Advisor, often a teacher. This ensures that each student is well known by at least one adult in the school and well cared for by a group of peers. Many Crews stay intact throughout a student’s middle or high school career.

Crews time consists of a series of lessons and activities complemented by rituals and routines that are drawn from NYC Outward Bound Schools’ best practices. While the goals for Crew may vary from grade to grade and certainly school to school, common practices may include:

  • Games or challenges that build teamwork or problem-solving skills
  • A discussion about a recent situation, social issue, or upcoming event
  • Academic goal-setting and postsecondary planning
  • Creative projects
  • Preparation for service work and civic contributions
  • Initiatives that support conflict resolution and self-reflection

Beyond the Crew classroom, a school-wide Crew culture can be brought to life through mentorship programs, school- or grade-wide town halls, restorative justice practices, or traditions like the College and Career March.


WATCH: The building blocks of a Crew meeting

Learning Community

Schools that opt in to the Crew & School Culture pathway join a networked improvement community based around shared problems of practice. Together, they work to build sustainable Crew structures and a school-wide culture of Crew, where students and educators practice empathy and compassion, look out for one another, and work toward shared goals.

READ: Crew Case Studies

Crew: Establishing Belonging & Pride in a New School Community

As a brand new middle school, MS 419, a Crew Initiative school in Northern Corona, Queens, is using Crew structures and routines to make the school community a place where all students feel they belong.

Crew: Infusing Joy and Inclusion Into School Culture

NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies is a high school in Chelsea that is utilizing Crew, or "Family Circle" to help students better feel a sense of belonging in the school community.

Crew: A Responsive Solution to a Transfer School’s Needs

South Brooklyn Community High School is a transfer school in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Read more about how integrating Crew has helped them empower students to set goals.

In schools that center Crew, students:

Feel seen, heard and valued as their full selves in their school community.

Have agency and voice in collaboratively building their school culture and community.

Develop a greater sense of who they are as humans and learners.

Grow their skills as leaders, building on their strengths and areas for growth.

Set goals and create plans to meet those goals — dealing and managing with setbacks as they go.

Foster empathy and compassion for themselves and those around them.

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