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Young Women’s College Prep Charter School Puts Students on Path to Success

By Staff –


ywcp2Young Women’s College Prep Charter School, the only all-girls public school in the Rochester City School District, has been growing each year since opening in 2012, and officials at the school said they’re making a concerted effort to let the community know single-sex education will put students on the path to success.

In fact, it’s the entire premise the school’s model is based on.

“Research says that girls in single-sex schools are more likely to take risks, and also be in careers that are traditionally dominated by males,” Tracy Harris, YWCP staff developer, stated. “So, it was that thinking behind it, for the premise of the establishment of the all-girls school.”

According to Harris, the school is an affiliate of the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN), which supports five highly successful, single-gender secondary schools in New York City.

The goal of the network is to provide girls in public school with an education that would rival one they would receive at a private institution.

“We are part of a network called the Young Women’s Leadership Network that was started in New York City,” director of development Lauri Bonnell stated. “When they opened up their first school in New York, it was the first all-girls school in, I believe, 30 years. And, they actually faced a lot of challenges about opening an all-girls school, but what the founder of that network wanted to do was to allow girls to attend public school and get a quality private school education.”

In keeping with that philosophy, Harris said the school, which currently houses students in grades seven through 11, has developed a college-based learning program for students, in which 100 percent of its pupils are on track to graduate.

“As a part of our college-going culture, college awareness and readiness begins at the moment a young lady joins us,” Harris said. “They’re immediately entrenched into the college environment, getting exposure to college campuses. There’s RIT’s campus, where they stay for a week. And, in addition to that, SAT preparation at YWCP begins in the eighth grade. Every student takes the PSAT, and, typically, she does better each time. Even this year, with our eleventh graders getting ready take the SAT coming up soon, we did a big college day, where college recruiters were on campus, meeting with the girls. So, the college preparation piece is embedded in so much of what we do.”

However, in spite of students’ success at YWCP, Bonnell said, somehow, many community members still don’t know the school exists.

“We do a lot of community events,” she stated. “We participate in things like the Step Jam; the charter school expo; and any opportunity we have to spread awareness about the school. It can be a confusing process for parents, when their students age out of a K through six school. There are a lot of options for them, we just want them to know about YWCP as one of those options.”

The school presently accepts 75 new students entering the seventh grade each year, as well as students in its upper grade levels, although the open spots for students in higher grades are usually based upon availability, and those who do not receive admission will be placed on a waiting list.

ywcp3But, on the plus side, contrary to charter schools that may have a more selective admissions’ process, Bonnell said anyone can apply to YWCP.

“There are no requirements for our students,” she stated. “We don’t do an interview, or any sort of selection process. Any girl can fill out the application, and, if we have more applications than we have open seats, then we will do a lottery, which is a totally random drawing of names. It’s a random order, so there’s no selection process at all, and we do all of our student recruitment in the city because that is our target audience. We can accept students from other areas, but that is our target –  to recruit students who are most in need of this education.”

Over 90 percent of students at YWCP are currently minorities and city residents, and 86 percent of students come from economically challenged households.

Ultimately, Bonnell said the school’s goal is to provide each of those students with a quality education that will lead them forward on the path to success.

“The single gender environment is proven to provide an advantage, and that’s what we’re endeavoring to do with our girls, give them an advantage in a college-going culture,” she stated.

YWCP will add its final grade level, the twelfth grade, in the upcoming school year, and the school is currently accepting applications for students in each grade level.

The school will also hold a free, informative “Student Expo and Family Fun Day” for parents and students on Thursday, June 8, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at 133 Hoover Dr.

Visit for additional information regarding the school, or the event.

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