Middle School

Teaching middle-schoolers is widely acknowledged as one of the most difficult challenges in public education. To help these students, HCZ has a dual-track pipeline: we work with children in our Promise Academy charter schools, as well as with students in public schools within the Zone. Like all of HCZ’s programs, the middle school programs provide their services free to the public, which is possible thanks to the generosity of people like you. Please consider making a donation today.

Promise Academy Charter Schools

The Promise Academy middle school program began with 100 sixth-graders in 2004, many of whom were far below grade level. Despite some initial struggles (chronicled in the book "Whatever It Takes"), the school has coalesced and the students have been thriving. In 2009, 87.3 percent of the school's eighth-graders were on or above grade level in math on the New York Statewide exam. The middle school has a longer school day and year, and offers students a wide-ranging education as well as many "wrap-around services" such as free medical and dental care, freshly made healthy meals and an enriching afterschool program.

Read more about The Promise Academy


To strengthen the support for students not in the Promise Academy, HCZ has expanded its Academic Case Management system to work with every student from fifth-grade through twelfth-grade. In 2009, 700 middle-school students were in the system, each with an assigned staff person who worked with public-school staff to monitor the student's academic and developmental progress. Each student has an individualized plan and the case managers find assistance for them when necessary.

TRUCE Fitness and Nutrition Center

TRUCE Fitness and Nutrition Center offers free classes to children in karate, fitness and dance. Participants also learn about health and nutrition, and receive regular academic assistance. The program is focused on developing middle school youth, grades 5-8. In 2008-2009, the program's karate team brought home 86 trophies, including 36 first-place trophies.

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A Cut Above

A Cut Above is an after-school program serving over 560 students in the critical, and difficult middle-school years. Supporting students who are not in the Promise Academy charter schools, it provides academic help and leadership development, as well as high school and college preparation. Students participate in weekly discussions and activities around subjects such as lifetime decision making, identifying values, communication and critical thinking, resume building and interview techniques, social etiquette, conflict resolution and community service, among others.

Additionally, each child is assigned a student advocate who works directly with one of two dozen different middle schools that our students attend. Student advocates work directly with teachers, guidance counselors and parents to ensure that children are succeeding academically and socially. In addition to serving as tutors and mentors, student advocates also develop individual student plans for at risk children.


HCZ recognizes that children of color face many obstacles growing up in the inner city. Peacemakers' Boys to Men Leadership and Girl Power are gender-specific social development programs for boys and girls. These two efforts provide guidance and support for students as they strive to become productive and positive young men and women, as well as influential contributors to their community. Sessions consist of a combination of reading materials, discussions, workshops, trips, films and teambuilding activities conducted by private consultants, teachers and HCZ staff. The goals of the program are to prevent drug use, reduce gang involvement and reduce school violence, as well as to confront other relevant issues. As part of our leadership focus on civic responsibility, students also engage in various community service projects and educational trips.

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