All graduates will be college- and career-ready as we provide a meaningful pathway to lifelong learning for every student. By fostering the boldness to dream and by developing a commitment to inner growth and outward transformation, our graduates will be ready to design their own futures.


The mission of EPIC High Schools is to challenge all students to dream big and to support them in designing their future. We recognize that each student is an individual and therefore provide a series of learning experiences that equip young people to walk their unique paths. We honor and integrate the cultures of our communities to make learning relevant, responsive, and accessible, as we develop citizens with a positive sense of self, ready to stand for social justice.


In 2011, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the launch of the Young Men’s Initiative (YMI), the nation’s largest public-private partnership aimed at reducing disparities for Black and Latino young men across a range of sectors: health, criminal justice, employment, and education. This had major implications for New York City schools and, with support from Open Society Foundations, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) launched the Expanded Success Initiative (ESI) to confront these problems at scale in a city where the college- and career-ready rate for Black and Latino young men was about 1 in 10.

The first phase of ESI consisted of direct investment in forty existing schools that had shown promise in graduating young men of color. The theory of action was simple: find the best ideas developed by those closest to students everyday and support them to develop replicable programming. But getting to 10 in 10 would take more ambitious effort involving all-new schools designed around radically different core principles, beliefs, and practices. In 2013 the second phase of ESI, the ESI School Design Fellowship, began. Fellows representing cross-functional expertise spent a year designing schools that reimagined the high school experience to achieve the elusive 10 in 10 and improve prospects for young men and women of color alike.

In the fall of 2014, the DOE opened three schools based on this work: EPIC High School North, EPIC High School South, and The Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice: An EPIC High School.


empowerment-thumbEMPOWERMENT | Students make important decisions about the direction of their learning and their lives. At EPIC, we listen to our young people and, instead of prescribing paths, we present options, and teach skills pertaining to leadership and choice.
personalization-thumbPERSONALIZED AND APPLIED LEARNING | Learning is built upon a sense of self and connects wherever possible to practical experience. At EPIC, all students and staff maintain personal growth plans that engage strengths to surmount challenges and that emphasize application.
inclusion-thumbINCLUSION AND SERVICE | We embrace the communities already in our students’ lives just as we guide them to forge new ones. At EPIC, honoring who we are is intimately bound up with deciding who we’ll be through acts of service and connection.
cultural-responsiveness-thumbCULTURAL RESPONSIVENESS | Cultural biases in education are rooted out and all students’ senses of place and perspective are reflected in content and pedagogy. At EPIC, instruction connects students to their heritage and expands access points to learning.
continuous-improvement-thumbCONTINUOUS GROWTH AND DESIGN FOR TRANSFORMATION | Students and staff understand how future ability evolves from present ability and approach learning to improve both the self and the world. At EPIC, we encourage our students to take risks, learn from failure, and design a better future.
collective-responsibility-thumbCOLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY | We each exist as unique and powerful learners but we also work together to transform our community and ourselves. At EPIC, our learning community operates on the moral principle of Ubuntu — “I am because we are.”


Tabari Zaid Bomani
Principal, The Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice: An EPIC High School
Harvey Chism
Executive Director, South Bronx Community Charter High School
John Clemente
Academic Director, South Bronx Community Charter High School
Brandon Corley
Co-Principal, EPIC High School South
John Duval
Network Architect
Natalie Ferrell
Youth Development Director, South Bronx Community Charter High School
Darius Mensah
Co-Principal, EPIC High School South
David Weinberg
Principal, EPIC High School North




The Brotherhood / Sister Sol

Stephanie Krauss, The Forum for Youth Investment

The New York City Writing Project

The Center for Collaborative Education

Vanda Belusic-Vollor and Julian Cohen, NYC Department of Education

The Expanded Success Initiative Team

ESI Student Fellows

Leonard Medlock, Stanford D-School

Paul Perry and Vadewatie Ramsuchit, ESI Design Fellows