Capital One Bank and The Heart of America Foundation Build New College Access Room for Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Marks New Opportunities for Washington Heights Students to Pursue Higher Education and Financial Aid
Oct 19, 2012 6:25 AM ET
Press Release

October 19, 2012 /3BL Media - WHAT:  Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) in New York City School District Six celebrated the grand opening of its new READesign® College Access Room with a ribbon cutting on Friday, October 19, 2012. Shael Polakow-Suransky, Chief Academic Officer and Senior Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, participated in the event to help commemorate WHEELS’ College Access Room.  Students will primarily use the new space to research careers, study for standard entrance exams, and complete college and financial aid applications as they pursue higher education – which, for many of these students, means being the first in their families to attend college.  

WHEELS’ inaugural graduating class celebrated 100 percent acceptance to colleges in May 2012. This is a remarkable achievement considering that 97 percent of the student body is Latino, all qualify for free or reduced lunch, and national statistics indicate that only 37 percent of Latino high school completers between the ages of 18 and 24 will enroll in college[1]. The College Access Room represents the continuation of WHEELS students exceeding public expectations associated with these national statistics.

To support WHEELS’ future success, Capital One Bank volunteers, The Heart of America Foundation®, NYC Outward Bound Schools (WHEELS’ parent network of schools), as well as WHEELS students transformed a gray classroom into a welcoming workspace, which is also a permanent location for the school’s College Counselor and new Alumni Counselor. Additionally, the Room houses over 350 books on college readiness and financial literacy.

Capital One Bank associates further marked the grand opening by spending the day leading WHEELS seniors in college-focused financial literacy activities and distributing 2,600 new books to each of the 650 WHEELS students for their at-home libraries (four books per student).  This activity was part of Capital One’s One Week (October 14 – 20), during which associates across the company volunteer in their communities.  In New York, approximately 1,000 Capital One Bank associates helped organizations in Upper Manhattan and throughout the rest of the region.

WHERE:  Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS)

511 West 182nd Street, 4th Floor

New York, NY  10033

WHEN:  Friday, October 19, 2012

Ribbon Cutting:  11 am-12:00pm

Volunteer Event:  9:30am-11:30am


Shael Polakow-Suransky, Chief Academic Officer and Senior Deputy Chancellor, New York City Department of Education

Brett Kimmel, Principal, WHEELS

Richard Stopol, President & CEO, NYC Outward Bound Schools

James Covington, Manhattan Market President, Capital One Bank

Konrad Schwarz, Senior Vice President, Capital One Bank

John Flynn, Vice President, The Heart of America Foundation, who will host the event       

WHY: The College Access Room is a great extension of the deep partnerships and commitment to education Capital One Bank shares with WHEELS, NYC Outward Bound Schools and The Heart of America Foundation. The Bank has provided financial and volunteer support to WHEELS over the last several years, which has involved repairing the school’s library, expanding financial literacy education, and supporting the school’s first annual College Application March. Since partnering with The Heart of America in 2001, Capital One has donated more than one million books to nearly 500,000 children in America, and thousands of Capital One associates have volunteered to read to students and renovate school libraries.

About Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS):

WHEELS ( opened in September 2006 as a public school in Community School District 6, one of the most overcrowded districts in New York City.  It is part of NYC Outward Bound Schools’ ( network of Expeditionary Learning schools. WHEELS’ mission is to work with families to prepare each sixth-twelfth grade student academically, emotionally, intellectually and socially to succeed at a college of her/his choice and beyond.  WHEELS graduated its first senior class in June 2012 with 100 percent of graduates accepted to college, most of whom will be the first in their families to continue their education beyond high school. WHEELS is rated as an “A” school by the NYC Department of Education and was recognized as a “Transformational School” by Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp in her book A Chance to Make History (2011).  The approximately 650 students are 97 percent Latino and all qualify under federal guidelines for free lunch.

About The Heart of America Foundation:

The Heart of America Foundation ( is a national nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C. that uniquely promotes volunteer service and literacy.  The organization aims to inspire acts of service and a love of reading by building community and providing children in need with the tools to read, succeed and make a difference.  Committed to education and volunteerism, The Heart of America Foundation engages volunteers by putting books into the hands of children who need them the most.  Since 1997, The Heart of America Foundation has provided children living in poverty with over 2.9 million library and take-home books, and has engaged volunteers in more than 1,037,500 hours of service to the community.

About Capital One:

Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A., Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., and ING Bank, fsb, offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities – good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families – benefits us all and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.

[1] Santiago, D. A. (2009). “Leading in a changing America: Presidential perspectives from Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).” Retrieved from Excelencia in Education:


Samantha Sims


John Flynn