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East harlem tutorial program gains a large donation to improve education in community

Jada Vanderpool | 1/7/2014, noon

East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP), a facilitator in the creation of public charter schools and after-school programs, received a whopping $15 million gift from philanthropists Marilyn and Jim Simons. This is the largest single education-related donation in Harlem, and one of the top five individual gifts for education in New York City.

Founded in 1958, EHTP aims to help students grades K-12 learn academic skills, strength of character and emotional well being to excel in high school and college. The program currently serves 15,000 East Harlem youth.

“We are so grateful for Marilyn and Jim’s extraordinary gift. They have been longstanding supporters of our work and are true partners in our mission to provide the students and families of East Harlem with the education they deserve,” said Jeff Ginsburg, Executive Director of EHTP. Marilyn Simons is an EHTP board member and president of the nonprofit Simons Foundation. Jim Simons is the founder of Math for America. The two recently received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

This donation will make up one-third of EHTP's total Campaign for East Harlem fundraising goal of $45 million. According to the EHTP Web site, the program would use $39 million to create learning facilities, $4 million to increase after school program enrollment and $2 million for their college scholars fund to help support students in obtaining college degrees.

The facility will hold the East Harlem Scholars Academy charter school for grades K-8, STEM and Robotics labs, Wellness facilities, music and performance spaces, a counseling center and a community cafe. EHTP hopes to begin building the facility at the corner of 105th St. and Second Ave. by July 2014.

In addition to the Simons' $15 million donation, EHTP has raised $4 million so far. Ginsburg hopes that the Simons' grand donation will inspire other private investors to donate as well.

These donations will bring much needed educational attention to the struggling district. According point2homes.com, 16.3 percent of East Harlem residents never attended high school, 16 percent didn't finish high school and 15.7 percent didn't finish college.