Welcome to University Prep Public Schools
It is my proud privilege to welcome you to the University Prep Public Schools website.
University Prep is an exceptional place to teach and learn. Our educators are unconditionally committed to providing a high quality learning experience focused on the individual needs of each child. Our school community has a long standing tradition of academic excellence in the South Bronx.
We know that success in school goes beyond test scores, and that’s why we work hard to provide a safe and nurturing environment that promotes a positive supportive school culture. For this reason, we call our school community the University Prep Family, and we are honored to have you as a part of our family.
Please know that my door is open and I am here to support you in any way possible.
Executive Director, University Prep Public Schools
The Mission of University Prep Public Schools is to prepare students for success in high school, college, leadership and life.
We achieve this mission by creating a student-centered environment that unifies the efforts of family, community and school to foster life-long learning, cross-cultural relationships, social responsibility, and academic excellence.
University Prep offers a robust college-preparatory program serving both students in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx and those from all over New York City. With a 98% graduation rate, 100% college acceptance rate, and a 99% parent approval rating we are among the highest performing schools in the Bronx. We hold high standards for academic excellence and conduct and we pride ourselves on our inclusive and warm student culture.
Founded in 2008, University Prep Public Schools is the highest performing charter organization in the South Bronx. We offer a free, public education to students from all over New York City and the surrounding areas. We pride ourselves on our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and our doors are open to all students no matter their race, ethnicity, creed, sexuality, learning ability, or primary language. University Prep public Schools operates a middle school and a high school, serving nearly 1000 students.
University Prep was founded in partnership with the United Federation of Teachers; at the time, an unprecedented partnership between a charter school and a labor union. This innovative and daring vision of our founders Steve Barr and Randi Weingarten has led to a flourishing and impactful partnership benefitting the students and families in the UP community.
We know that the single most important factor in determining the success of a child is the educator standing in the classroom. For this reason, UP pours our resources into finding, hiring, and keeping the best teachers available in New York and making them feel valued and heard.
We seek to impact the charter school sector and the national education conversation by demonstrating the viability and sustainability of partnerships between charter schools and unionized educators. A frequent casualty of un-unionized charter schools are faculty salaries essential to attracting and retaining highly-qualified and experienced professionals - thus resulting in high teacher turnover rate and inconsistency for students. University Prep Public Schools values and relies upon our partnership with unionized teachers. The cornerstone of our collaboration with teachers is our commitment to authentic teacher and staff voice throughout the school. Staff members serve on the board of trustees and are part of all aspects of school governance. Our model is unique in that we encourage collaboration for teachers from a position of strength – as members of a unionized body with all the benefits and privileges and responsibilities of a partner. We hope to encourage the proliferation of sustainable partnerships, and to serve as a role model for best practices in the charter landscape.
Andrea d'Amato, Executive Director
Ms. d'Amato’s experience as a teacher, instructional coach, leadership consultant, college professor, and high school principal make her uniquely qualified to effectively lead a high-performing charter network. Ms. d'Amato joined University Prep in 2015 as UP High School Principal and in 2019, under her leadership as Executive Director, UP proudly opened its doors to its first middle school.
Ms. d'Amato holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education from Boston College, a Master’s in Business Administration from New York University and a School Administration and Supervision degree from Hunter College.
As the Executive Director of University Prep Public Schools, Ms. d’Amato relies heavily on an effective system of distributed leadership where each member of the staff participates in organization-wide decision-making and takes responsibility for the harmonious accomplishment of common goals. Core to her philosophy is the belief that every child can learn and achieve at high academic levels.
Steve Barr, Board Chair and Co-Founder
Steve Barr founded Green Dot Public Schools in 1999 with the vision of transforming secondary education in California by creating a number of high-performing charter high schools using available public dollars. Under Steve’s leadership, Green Dot became the leading change agent in the region, starting in fall 2000 by founding one of the first comprehensive public high schools in the Los Angeles area in thirty years.
In 2008, in collaboration with Randi Weingarten, Steve founded a Green Dot Charter High School in NYC (changed later to University Prep). Their partnership and vision for the school ensured that teacher voice would guide decision making and build an exemplary learning institution.
In 2010, Steve formed Future Is Now Schools, built on the successful secondary Green Dot Public Schools model, union reform and systemic district change, to take the foundational principles outside of California.