At its annual Spring Benefit, students, staff, family members, and supporters of the East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) gather to recognize the organization’s past year of service to the East Harlem community. The event provides an opportunity for the nonprofit’s leaders and stakeholders to look back on its recent accomplishments, recognizing the innovative programs and dedicated personnel that have provided countless new opportunities for low-income youth. At the same time, the benefit shines a light on the diligence, determination, and creativity exhibited by EHTP students as they work to build fulfilling futures for themselves and their wider community.
On May 24, 2017, the organization welcomed guests to the American Museum of Natural History for the latest iteration of the festive event. Planned around the theme, “Many Destinations, One Beginning,” the 31st Annual Spring Benefit reflected the very best of EHTP and the Harlem community. The program included a moving schedule of presentations and performances that offered a window into the very heart of the life-changing program and, in the process, inspired an incredible outpouring of community support.
Event co-chairs Steve and Gretchen Burke welcome guests.
A number of leaders from the business and civic communities were present to offer their support to EHTP, including philanthropists Steve and Gretchen Burke. The CEO of NBCUniversal, Mr. Burke joined his wife in serving as a co-chair for the annual event.
As parents and New York residents, Mr. and Mrs. Burke take a particular interest in improving educational options and outcomes for students throughout the city. Expressing his honor at chairing the benefit event in support of EHTP, Steve Burke noted, “I know how important it is to provide a first-class education system for all students in this city, regardless of background or financial means.”
A number of business leaders from a variety of sectors were also in attendance to show their support for quality education in East Harlem. Special guests included Pepsi Bottling CEO Bill Wilson; Renaissance Technologies founder Jim Simons and wife Marilyn Simons, representing the Simons Foundation; Sanford Bernstein CEO Robert Van Brugge; and more. EHTP and its co-chairs hosted the gala with the support of such noteworthy partners as Deloitte, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. Additionally, organizers were proud to welcome several NYC elected officials, including Gail Brewer, borough president of Manhattan.
Students share how EHTP changed their lives.
The 31st Annual Spring Benefit kicked off at 6 pm with a cocktail hour, which gave guests a chance to meet, mingle, and discuss the life-changing work EHTP performs. During this time, students chatted with attendees to provide a closer glimpse at the vast opportunities EHTP offers, including enriching after-school programs, an innovative network of charter schools, and unique experiential learning opportunities involving robotics, film, and theatre. A number of students also performed during the dinner portion of the event.
Supporters raise over $3 million for the East Harlem tutorial Program.
Guests donated generously to EHTP in accordance with seven sponsorship tiers, and the nonprofit accepted additional contributions from supporters who were unable to attend. All in all, the Spring Benefit brought in $3.2 million to help fund and improve the nonprofit’s enriching educational programs. The bulk of this new funding will support the ongoing expansion of EHTP’s core programs, including its rapidly growing network of Harlem Scholars Academies, the recently-launched East Harlem Teaching Residency, and the after-school and summer programs that first launched the nonprofit’s mission.
An EHTP senior delivers a moving keynote address.
At each Spring Benefit, an East Harlem Tutorial Program graduating high school senior shares a keynote address. This speech traditionally serves as an insightful, personal, and oftentimes emotional window into the incredible impact that EHTP can have on a student’s life. This year’s keynote was no different—covering topics of deep personal strife, resilience, and hope. However, the speech was unique in that it marked the first time in the event’s 31-year history that the keynote’s original author was unable to personally deliver it.
On the advice of EHTP’s legal counsel, the 2017 keynote author chose not to give the speech herself, instead choosing a close friend—fellow senior and EHTP student Noemi Meli—to share her story. The keynote presented a saga familiar to many of the immigrant families who make up the diverse social landscape of the United States, telling of the author’s grandfather’s original journey from China to Ecuador, her parents’ similar decision to seek a new life for their family in America, and the author’s mounting struggles with self-worth and personal identity while coming of age as an undocumented immigrant.
Despite facing many challenges, the author manages to find a renewed sense of confidence, community, and hope at EHTP. In her keynote, she shares her journey from a struggling high school student to a top graduate with plans to attend a leading liberal arts college on a full scholarship. In this way, the 2017 keynote address is a testament to not only the positive impact of EHTP, but also to the strength and resilience of its remarkable students.