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Yonkers Education Group Is In National Spotlight

YONKERS, N.Y. – A Yonkers education program determined to even the playing field for city students is gaining national attention.

Yonkers Partners in Education , or YPIE, has been nominated for a Classy Award , part of the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the United States.

“We are very proud and really very excited that we have gotten acknowledged in this way and that the work we are doing has gotten some traction outside of Yonkers,” said YPIE Executive Director Wendy Nadel.

Now in its fourth year, the Classy Awards, which has been billed as the “Academy Awards of Philanthropy," is a San Diego-based awards ceremony recognizing charitable organizations.

YPIE is one of five finalists in the northeast region in the educational advancement category, one of a few groups to survive more than 2,500 nominations.

“It’s very exciting,” Nadel said. “This could be very big news for Yonkers.”

YPIE was created five years ago by a group of businessmen and businesswomen, parents, and community leaders. Amid budget and staffing cuts throughout the Yonkers Public School District, the group vowed to provide every child with an education that allowed them to graduate from high school and attend college.

Yonkers students were at a disadvantage, Nadel said, as they weren't given many of the opportunities other students in Westchester were presented with. “We really considered ourselves an organization that brings opportunities to kids that do not have it in any other way,” she said.

Just a few years later, YPIE has gained traction in the district. The group has created college and career centers, placing advisers in seven of the nine district high schools.

In 2011, more than 10,000 students visited the centers, YPIE statistics show. The SAT program tutored more than 300 students and raised average scores by 218 points, YPIE says. In the process, Yonkers saw the number of high school seniors applying to college increase by 11 percent in 2011, YPIE statistics show.

YPIE “saved our schools and our children from heartbreak and disaster,” one high school administrator said according to the Classy Awards website.

While there is no monetary prize for winning the Classy award, Nadel said the recognition would be a big boost for YPIE and Yonkers.

“Even being a contender is great,” she said. “But winning, I think it would be fantastic. It would be very affirming and great for the city.”

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