The East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) hosted its 60th Anniversary Benefit on May 21, 2018, at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. The annual gala honors those involved in EHTP’s mission to raise college graduation rates among East Harlem’s youth. This year’s gala raised $4 million and drew 600 guests, which are both a record for EHTP.
Highlights of the gala included performances by EHTP’s Scholar Academy students, the announcement of the newly formed EHTP Alumni Council, and a keynote speech by EHTP Scholars Academy student and graduating senior Alex Pineda. The event also included remarks from event co-chairs Billy and Cassie Rahm; Joan Solotar, the chair of the EHTP Board of Trustees; and EHTP Executive Director Jeff Ginsburg. Read on for more details about some of the highlights.
EHTP Racial Equity Statement
At the gala, EHTP also displayed its Racial Equity Statement. In 2017, EHTP wrote the statement, which is also posted on its website. The statement says that EHTP finds institutionalized racism to be problematic. The statement also makes it clear that EHTP believes that racism is the root of the inequality faced by those involved in the organization. This includes a commitment by EHTP to examine the design of its practices so that they might better achieve racial justice.
The Racial Equity Statement is part of a larger effort by EHTP to make clear its position as an anti-racist organization. As explained in its strategic plan for anti-racism work, EHTP strives to actively work against racism by identifying practices and policies within the organization that might allow it to exist. EHTP also aims to change those problematic practices and policies. Some areas that are currently under consideration include recruiting and retaining diverse staff members, as well as improving communication with communities of color.
Remarks by Executive Director Jeff Ginsburg
During the event, EHTP Executive Director Jeff Ginsburg spoke about the theme of racism. In his remarks, he mentioned insights from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and stressed to youth the importance of having a plan for the future and a sense of self-worth. Ginsburg addressed the limitations that racism places on youth of color when it comes to their plans for the future and the development of a sense of self-worth. However, he pointed out that EHTP programming is having an impact on minimizing these limitations, noting that 71% of EHTP participants have either graduated from college or are on track to graduate.
Ginsburg has a long history of supporting STEM education in communities that are underserved. Prior to his endeavors with EHTP, Ginsburg created STEM education programming for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay that was called stellar by the National Science Foundation. Possessing an advanced degree in education policy and nonprofit management from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, as well as leadership experience as a member of public service committees and councils, Ginsburg has played an important role in EHTP’s growth. He has directed its development of charter schools, overseen its teacher training program, and grown its operating budget by more than $10 million. The efforts have gone a long way toward combatting the limitations that institutionalized racism places on youth in need and that EHTP is working so hard to overcome.
Keynote Speech by Graduating Senior
This year’s keynote speaker was Alex Pineda, a graduating senior who has been involved in EHTP programming since he was in the sixth grade. In his speech, Pineda spoke about how his priorities changed over time. He recounted stories from when he was a young boy and enjoyed playing soccer and watching novelas, or Spanish-language soap operas, with his grandmother. Then he explained that as he grew older, he shifted his focus to studying more and focused his attention on robotics and engineering during his junior and senior year of high school. He discussed how being involved in EHTP had been a positive influence on him, as he was surrounded by people with backgrounds similar to his who also had college aspirations and had already completed college.
Pineda revealed that he faced a period of fear and uncertainty about attending college and worried about possible failures that he might face there. However, due to EHTP’s SAT prep classes, which helped him to raise his score by 200 points, and his EHTP college counselor, he gained the necessary confidence to apply to his first-choice college. During his speech, Pineda revealed that he would be attending college in the fall, becoming the first in his family to do so. The audience was impressed by the news that he had received a full scholarship to the University of Rochester. He hopes to become a role model for his younger siblings on how to be successful in college. Pineda showed himself to be a shining example of an individual working hard with the support of others to overcome the limitations.