Achievement First was established in 1998 by a group of individuals from New Haven who wanted to give urban students the same academic opportunities as their affluent suburban counterparts by changing the system. Thus Amistad Academy was born.
Since its establishment, the Academy garnered outstanding Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) results. In addition, these students have beat state averages in both reading and math, proving that wealth has nothing to do with intelligence and success in the educational system, if, as co-founder Dacia Toll – also Achievement First’s co-CEO – realized.
Toll’s priorities today are to develop and expand Achievement First and the success of all their schools. She is responsible for all internal and external operations and relations, as well as planning; coaching; training; recruitment; outreach; fundraising and more. The experience she brings to the helm includes being the leader of Amistad Academy’s founding team and serving as school principal from 1999 to 2005.
Elm City College Preparatory, a second school, was opened in 2004, expanding the original model to elementary grades. The following year it moved over into Brooklyn as well, first, opening two new schools there – Achievement First Crown Heights Charter School and Achievement First East New York Charter School – and then a little while later the Amistad Academy High School and Amistad Academy Elementary School. This encouraged the opening of Connecticut’s first K to 12 public charter school. Two new middle schools and an elementary school in Bridgeport and Hartford, followed. Today, Achievement First boasts 20 academies under 10 charters in 4 cities. In the 2011-12 academic year, it serves 6,210 students in grades K to 12.
Some of their schools in NY include:
- Achievement First Apollo Elementary School
- Achievement First Brooklyn High School
- Achievement First Brownsville Elementary School
- Achievement First Brownsville Middle School
- Achievement First Bushwick Elementary School
- Achievement First Bushwick Middle School
- Achievement First Crown Heights Elementary School
- Achievement First Crows Heights Middle School
- Achievement First East New York Elementary School
- Achievement First East New York Middle School
- Achievement First Endeavor Middle School
- Achievement First Endeavor Elementary School