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Public Awareness Campaign for ELLs


Contact: Jon Reinish – (202) 999-0461,



Multilingual, Multimedia Public Outreach Campaign Will Aim to Raise Awareness and Boost Attendance among English Language Learners in Charter Schools

(New York, NY) To address the fact that public charter schools in New York City have not enrolled comparable numbers of English Language Learners (ELLs) as traditional public schools, the New York City Charter School Center is launching a multimedia, multilingual campaign to combat this issue.

Phase one of Charters Open Doors is kicking off this week and the first phase of the campaign is centered on spreading awareness to communities across NYC that public charter schools welcome ELLs and help them achieve proficiency in English at a faster rate than traditional district schools. The second phase will begin on December 1, when application season opens.

In the first phase, print, digital and mobile advertising will be running on Telemundo, the #1 Spanish station in New York City, as well as in the Spanish-daily newspaper El Diario and Mandarin-daily World Journal. In the second phase, ads will be running in the subway and on Spanish-language radio. The Spanish-language ads will direct viewers to On, informational sheets for parents are available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, French and Creole.

The Charter Center has also hired a new ELL Specialist, Melissa Katz, to support schools’ efforts to attract and best educate ELL students in NYC charter schools.

“Charters open doors and welcome ELL students and their families - we have to get the word out in every community in as many languages as possible,” said James Merriman, CEO, New York City Charter School Center. “And quite frankly, we also need to stop perpetuating the myth that charter schools don’t serve ELLs. It isn’t true, and repeating it does a disservice to families who deserve accurate information about their school options.”

At a press conference to announce details of the campaign, Merriman was joined by elected officials, community and school leaders, as well as parents.

"Whether in charter schools, high schools for immigrants, traditional school settings or someplace else entirely, the more opportunities for English Language Learners to get the intensive language-development help they need to succeed, the better,” said New York State Senator Jose Peralta, D - Queens. “We have to use all of the tools at our disposal to close the disgracefully large gap in achievement between English Language Learners and other students."

“With growing immigrant communities across our State as well as a growing number of English Language Learners in our schools, it is truly commendable that the New York City Charter School Center will proactively recruit these students to be a part of their educational institutions,” said Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, D - Bronx. “Once a point of criticism of charter schools, this initiative demonstrates the charter school communities' commitment to serve all students and provide them the tools to succeeded academically.”

“Family Life Academy Charter School has served the Bronx for 14 years, the borough with the highest concentration of ELL students in NYC,” said Marilyn Calo, Executive Director of the FLACS network. “Our school consistently registers between 38% - 40% ELL students and we seek to meet their particular needs. We are pleased that the Charter Center is launching this campaign to get the word out about the work we are already doing with ELLs in the hopes that more families will learn about options available to them throughout the city.”

“There are many types of ELL programs that are already helping kids at charter schools in New York City. At Heketi, we seek to develop bilingualism alongside biculturalism,” said Cynthia Rosario, Principal at Heketi Community Charter School. “We know that students learn best in an environment that honors their home language and culture and we hope that this effort by the Charter Center encourages ELL families to apply in greater numbers.”

The complete list of speakers included:

  • James Merriman, CEO, New York City Charter School Center
  • State Senator Jose Peralta, New York State Senate, 13th District
  • Marilyn Calo, Executive Director, Family Life Academy Charter School Network
  • Pagee Cheung, Principal, Math, Engineering and Science Academy Charter High School (MESA)
  • Cynthia Rosario, Principal, Heketi Community Charter School
  • Beatriz Sanchez, Parent of Heketi Community Charter School student
  • Frida Bustamante, graduate of Williamsburg Charter High School, student at New York University


Press Release