Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, the Harlem YMCA, located at 180 W. 135th St., will host the AdmissionSquad, Inc. The core mission of the AdmissionSquad is to provide exemplary test preparation to high-achieving middle school students from underrepresented backgrounds seeking to gain admission to top New York City public high schools. Whereas the debate rages as to whether people are born intellectually gifted or whether such talent is nurtured, Tai Abrams, graduate of both Bronx High School of Science and Duke University and CEO of AdmissionSquad asserted, “Leaders are not born, they are built.” To that end, a mock full-length three-hour Specialized High School Admissions Test will be administered to participating sixth- and seventh-graders at 11 a.m. sharp. These exams will be professionally scored. Contemporaneous with the administration of the mock SHSAT, AdmissionSquad members will discuss their programmatic offerings, and the Harlem Y will lead a panel discussion to share vital information with parents and guardians. RSVP is required at

Much ado has been made for decades regarding the underrepresentation of Black and Latino students at NYC’s specialized high schools. Perhaps what is most disturbing is that although the population of Black and Latino children in NYC has grown to constitute more than 66 percent of the NYC student population, there has been a sharp decline in acceptance and admission of these students at NYC’s top public schools. In the academic year 2016-2017, the NYC Department of Education reported that Black students only constituted 1 percent of Stuyvesant High School’s student population. Given this alarming trend, NYC and NYS government officials—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Assembly Member Charles Barron, State Senators Jamal Bailey and Toby Stavisky—have put forth various proposals aimed at greater socio-economic, racial, geographic and gender inclusion at NYC’s top public high schools. These proposals have been both embraced and met with resistance. However, what remains at stake is the educational outcomes for NYC’s children.

Historically, the Y was Harlem’s pre-eminent educational, cultural and recreational facility. Many famed luminaries resided and performed at the Harlem Y, including the late great actress Ruby Dee, who was also a graduate of the prestigious Hunter College High School, a specialized public high school located in Manhattan. In keeping with that tradition, the Harlem Y’s new executive director, Steve Lawrence, seeks to bolster both the physical and academic wellness of the greater Harlem community. Because the Harlem Y is the most widely recognized family recreational facility in the region, Lawrence aims to position it as a hub and host for those organizations providing solutions to the challenges facing NYC families.

“We at the Harlem Y are excited to host AdmissionSquad and to bring this valuable and critically necessary educational opportunity to our membership and beyond,” said Lawrence.