“HEAF made the college-application process a lot easier,” explains Teleah Slater, a Brandeis-bound graduate of New Explorations into Science, Technology, and Math High School, a government campus. “I had a lot of difficulty writing my personal statement. One of the staffers stayed about two hours after the office closed to talk with me about what I wanted to say and develop an outline, so I could get started.” The Harlem resident continues: “HEAF always has been supportive, not just academically, but emotionally. Whenever you have a problem, they always are there to help.”
“If it weren’t for HEAF and its great staff, I wouldn’t be attending Syracuse University,” says Kwame Phipps, who already has started there after graduating from All Hallows High School, a Catholic school in the Bronx run by the Christian Brothers order. “I heard about Syracuse University, but never had seen it in person until my junior year on the annual HEAF Junior College Tour. Once I saw the university, I knew this is where I wanted to be.” He adds: “HEAF always offered their services whenever I was in need, from one-on-one help to get my college list organized the summer before my senior year to providing free SAT classes to help boost my score. Without these things, the idea of attending college never would have been possible.”
“As an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, no one in my family knew much about American colleges or the education system,” says a HEAF alumnus named Manny, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The graduate of the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering
, a government institution, continues: “HEAF was there for me as both a support group and a way of getting out of an insulated shell. If not for HEAF, I would not find myself at MIT today. I am the first in my family to go to college.”
“In this era of tight budgets, extracurricular activities are the first to be cut,” says Charles Sahm, deputy director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for State and Local Leadership. “HEAF is a model for how non-profits can fill the void and add new energy and ideas to the education mix.”
HEAF is the brainchild of Manhattan real-estate developer Daniel Rose. He has prospered by building and managing properties throughout Gotham. Sitting in his Madison Avenue conference room, beneath a painting of a skyscraper under construction, Rose laments that some consider underprivileged children “human bonsais, because external conditions have restrained their growth.” Instead, Rose explains, “We want to help children grow to their full height. If they have it in their capacity, we want to help them develop their full potential.”
He also stresses that HEAF does not merely pat students on their backs, regardless of achievement. It demands and generates excellence.
“We don’t promulgate self-esteem,” Dan Rose smiles. “We inculcate self-confidence to achieve tasks for which we help students prepare. We are not selling an education, a degree, or a job. Our goal for each HEAF student is a life that is satisfying and fulfilling.”
— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.