Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) opened its doors in September 2006, as a new public school in District 6, home to one of the highest-need populations in New York City. Friends of WHEELS (FoW) was founded in 2012 to ensure that every student at WHEELS has the support they need to access higher education and succeed in college and beyond. We are currently delivering our college and career counseling and support to 856 current high school students and WHEELS alumni.
Statistically, our students face long odds of ever completing a postsecondary degree.
90% are the first in their family to go to college
93% are minority
100% receive free or reduced lunch
We connect with students early in high school to provide the information, counseling, and exposure necessary to help each student define a postsecondary path that best fits with their skills and career interests. In 12th grade, we provide individualized counseling and assistance to ensure each student can access an appropriate college opportunity. Then, we deliver continuing academic and financial guidance, and social/emotional support after high school so students enroll, persist, and graduate from their chosen post-secondary program, earning a degree that allows them to embark on a self-sustaining career.
Last year, 97% of seniors graduated high school with a post-secondary plan.
82% of our graduating seniors enrolled in college—compared to a national average of just 46% for low-income students across the country.
We project that more than 85% of first year alumni will complete their freshman year and that overall, at least 75% of our alumni persist to the next year of their postsecondary education.
Our long-term objective is for 70% of WHEELS graduates to complete a 4-year degree within six years.
Our support enables WHEELS students and alumni to broaden their career opportunities, increase their earning potential, and serve as role models for their peers and those who follow in their footsteps. Our programming directly impacts the lives of nearly 1,000 students in the high-need Washington Heights neighborhood—and has a ripple effect that extends much further in impacting their families and the broader community. Through our innovative program, Friends of WHEELS is building a model for school-level college access and success that can be replicated in public schools across NYC and beyond.