Everything That Happened at EHTP’s 33rd Annual Benefit

The East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) in New York City plays a crucial role in preparing underrepresented youth for college and careers. The organization offers a number of enrichment initiatives, including after-school and summer programs for public school students, a teaching residency for prospective educators, a college scholars’ group to encourage enrollment in and graduation from college, and several Pre-K to grade 12 charter schools.

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The mission behind all of these initiatives is to raise the college completion and employment rates for residents of East Harlem, which lag behind those of other areas of the city. EHTP works to achieve this goal by focusing on academic preparation, character development, and emotional health for the youth who participate in its programs.

EHTP recently held its 33rd Annual Benefit to celebrate its programs and raise money for future development. Held at the American Museum of Natural History on May 20, 2019, the benefit attracted more than 50 corporate sponsors. Almost 700 supporters attended the event, which aimed to raise $4 million for EHTP.

Although the final fundraising total for the 2019 benefit has not yet been announced, the $4 million dollar mark was reached for the first time in 2018 at that year’s benefit gala. This year’s attendance set a new record, breaking the 2018 record of 600 attendees. Keep reading to learn more about this year’s event.

Our Mosaic: Then & Now

The theme for the 2019 benefit was “Our Mosaic: Then & Now,” honoring the diverse people who support and work for the organization. According to Jeff Ginsburg, executive director of EHTP, the mosaic theme also refers to the process it takes to help students build successful lives—their knowledge, skills, and experiences are accumulated one by one over time, much as a mosaic is constructed fragment by fragment.

The theme also refers to a five-story mural painted on the EHTP headquarters in 2017. The mural depicts in an interlocking pattern of international flags, many of which represent the home countries of EHTP students. Titled “#BuildLove,” the mural is meant to celebrate the diversity of the communities of EHTP, East Harlem, and the United States.

Memorial to EHTP Founder

Another important aspect of the 2019 EHTP benefit was a memorial to its founder, Helen Webber, who died in December 2018 at the age of 98. In 1958, she hosted a children’s reading group in her living room, and EHTP soon grew out of that effort. According to her obituary, she started the reading group after moving to East Harlem with her husband and their family to be involved in local ministry work.

Her obituary also details her early life. Before starting EHTP, Ms. Webber had graduated from Radcliffe College, was a member of the WAVES (also known as Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during WWII, and received an MA in English Literature from Columbia University. According to her obituary, later in life, she served as the first female executive director of the Health and Welfare Division of the Board of Homeland Ministries at the National Office of the United Church of Christ.

Launch of Charter High School

EHTP also announced at the 2019 benefit gala the opening of its new charter high school. Set to open in fall 2019, this will be EHTP’s first high school, joining the organization’s elementary and middle schools. This will bring the total number of schools operated by EHTP to five.

East Harlem Scholars Academy High School will share a building with another high school for its first few years, but EHTP is already building a new facility. Its curriculum will follow New York State Common Core Learning Standards and will include AP course offerings. East Harlem Scholars will include extended day programs, community service components, advisory periods, and instruction based on data-driven assessment.

Celebration of College-Bound Graduating Seniors

Finally, the 2019 benefit gala included a celebration of college-bound graduating seniors who have benefited from EHTP programs. Standing out was Diana Galindo-Linares, a graduating senior who served as a keynote speaker at the event. She spoke about being bullied in elementary school, and how her mother’s encouragement helped her to overcome her hardships.

She noted that her persistence in school had paid off with a full scholarship to her top choice college. She is not alone in her success. According to the EHTP website, 96 percent of the seniors who participate in EHTP programs gain admission to college. Further, EHTP boasts that the students involved in its College Scholars program graduate from college at a rate eight times higher than the national average for low-income college students.