Our Story

Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills Community School was founded by parents and the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation in 1997, with support from New Visions for Public Schools. It is a public school based on an innovative, dual language (English-Spanish) model with strong parent leadership and currently has 430 students in pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.

For its first thirteen years the Community School operated within other school buildings without its own permanent home. It had no access to a gym, lacked its own library and auditorium, classrooms were overcrowded, many in aging portables, and there were no science labs. In 2010, the school moved into a brand new building. This was the result of years of tremendously hard work by parents, students, the Cypress Hills LDC and elected officials advocating to achieve a real home. Ultimately, the support of the City Council, Department of Education and the School Construction Authority was critical to creating space that reflects the input of students, parents, teachers, and the partner CBO with the inclusion of a greenhouse, science lab, sizable, well-stocked library, room for the arts, a cafe-style cafeteria, a multipurpose gym, and thoughtfully designed classrooms with up-to-date technology.

Crucial to the school's founding and on-going development is the active involvement of its community partner, the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation. CHLDC, one of the school’s co-founders, contributes significant staff and board resources by supporting parental involvement, building parent leadership, leveraging additional resources, creating an effective development team to help accomplish the school's construction and operating a combined recreational and academic after-school program in the new building.

The building is designed to support the Community School’s pedagogical approach, and to be a center for life-long learning for the children, their families and the entire community. It is also intended to serve as a catalyst for community economic development. “Our project demonstrates the tremendous potential for community development corporations to produce desperately needed educational facilities that are responsive to educational programs in high need areas, and to involve teachers and parents in advocating for and designing the school,” says CHLDC’s director, Michelle Neugebauer. “CBOs have demonstrated their capacity to rebuild neighborhoods. They have untapped capacity to develop school facilities in a timely, cost-effective, accountable, and sensitive fashion. The challenge is persuading educational authorities to think outside of the box.”