Who We Are

In 1996, Ann and Andrew Tisch partnered with the New York City Board of Education to open The Young Women’s Leadership School (TYWLS) of East Harlem – the first public all-girls school to open in the United States in 30 years.  Their vision was to provide girls growing up in low-income communities with a high-quality college preparatory education modeled upon the finest private schools. Today the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN) serves more than 2,300 students through our five all-girls’ public schools in New York City and nearly 8,000 through our 12 national TYWLS’ affiliates. Moreover, the success of our girls’ schools has inspired the opening of dozens of single-sex schools nationwide. In 2001, with a vision for making the dream of college a reality for low-income and first-generation college students, YWLN launched the co-educational CollegeBound Initiative (CBI). Today more than 15,000 students in 27 New York City schools are served through CBI, which places full-time college counselors in schools who, just as in the best private schools, do it all.  CBI's Directors of College Counseling help students with college selection, tours, test prep, financial aid, scholarship resources, applications, essays, and interviews. The sole responsibility of CBI Directors of College Counseling is to create a college going culture across their schools, working with students as early as sixth grade. Since its inception 15 years ago, CBI has generated more than $300 million in financial aid and scholarships to make college more affordable and accessible.

Celebrate 20 years of YWLN! Read an anniversary message from founder Ann Tisch here.

See our timeline below for more milestones!


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1996: Ann Tisch partners with the Board of Education to open The Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem. The pioneer class included 56 seventh-grade girls.
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1997: TYWLS of East Harlem launches the high school class with 9th graders while continuing to build the middle school.
1998: Young Women's Leadership Network (then the Young Women's Leadership Foundation) is created to make our programming available to more students.
1999: The CollegeBound Initiative program is piloted at TYWLS of East Harlem.
Chicago graduation celebration
2000: The first TYWLS affiliate school, The Young Women's Leadership Charter School of Chicago, opens with 6th and 9th grade students.
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2001: TYWLS of East Harlem graduates its first class of seniors, with Oprah Winfrey as the Commencement speaker. 100% of the school's graduating seniors are accepted to college – an achievement which has been replicated for all eleven of the school’s graduating classes!
“When I heard your stories, I saw my life in your lives…..Girls, you have proven that this is what public education can be.”
Also in 2001: The CollegeBound Initiative (CBI) program launches at four high-need coed public high schools in New York City, more than quadrupling the number of students served.
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Also in 2001: Senator Hillary Clinton speaks to TYWLS of East Harlem students and testifies before the United States Congress in favor of single-sex education saying, "The Young Women's Leadership Schools are some of the premiere public schools in the nation. We could use more schools such as this….There should not be any obstacle to providing single-sex choice within the public school system."
2002: The first CollegeBound Initiative student to win a Posse scholarship is named. There have now been a total of 54 Posse scholars from CBI who have received full tuition scholarships to selective four-year colleges.
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2003: CollegeBound Initiative formalizes its first college partnership with Gettysburg College. They remain a key collaborator to this day.
2005: YWLN receives a $2.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand TYWLS in New York City.
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Also in 2005: TYWLS of Queens, which is located in Jamaica, opens with 81 students . Today it has a student body of 550 students.
1st day 06-07- students with principal
2006: TYWLS of Astoria opens with 81 students. Today it has a student body of 575 students.
Also in 2006: The first TYWLS (Em)Power Breakfast event is held in honor of TYWLS of East Harlem’s 10th anniversary, honoring Thelma Golden, Director of The Studio Museum in Harlem; Nancy Peretsman, Managing Director and EVP of Allen & Company LLC; Joel Klein, former Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education, and The Starr Foundation.
2007: CBI expands to serve more than 4,000 students at 9 partner schools.
Astoria girls
2008: TYWLS of Brooklyn opens with 63 students. Today it has a student body of 400 students.
2010: CBI expands to serve more than 6,000 students at 13 partner schools.
2011: The first CBI Celebration fundraising event is held to celebrate 10 years of CollegeBound Initiative, honoring George Hornig, COO of PineBridge Investments LLC; Lon Jacobs, former Chief Legal Officer and Senior EVP of News Corporation, and NY Giants Quarterback Eli Manning.
Also in 2011: The first class of TYWLS of Queens seniors graduate; news anchor Sade Baderinwa is the commencement speaker.
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2012: CollegeBound Initiative launches Bridge to College, a program that supports graduated seniors as they navigate the obstacles that arise during the summer before they begin college.
Also in 2012: TYWLS of the Bronx opens with 89 students. Today it has a student body of 340 students.
Also in 2012: CBI partners with the Department of Education on a $3.5 million, 5-year growth plan.
2013: The first class of TYWLS of Astoria seniors graduate; education rights champion Shabana Basij-Rasikh is the commencement speaker.
Also in 2013: CBI grows to serve more than 11,500 students at 21 partner schools.
Also in 2013: Nobel Peace Prize winner and girls' education advocate Malala Yousafzai is honored at the (Em)Power Breakfast event.
2014: TYWLS holds its first annual affiliate convening in Baltimore, bringing together 17 schools that have all been modeled after TYWLS.
Also in 2014: CBI grows to serve more than 13,500 students at 24 partner schools.
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2015: The first class of TYWLS of Brooklyn seniors graduate; NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is the commencement speaker.
Also in 2015: CBI grows to serve more than 15,000 students at 27 partner schools.
2016: YWLN celebrates the 20th Anniversary of TYWLS.
Also in 2016: CBI celebrates 15 years of impact; today CBI serves more than 15,000 students at 27 partner schools, with a plan to expand to 35 schools in the fall.
Also in 2016: Usher delivers a surprise college acceptance to Lafayette College via video to CBI senior Josephine from Central Park East High. Additionally, Tyra of TYWLS of East Harlem, gets a surprise college acceptance live on the TODAY Show with CBI honoree Al Roker
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Also in 2016: CBI students are the largest group of students represented at First Lady Michelle Obama's National College Signing Day.