The Diversity Initiative

Group photo of smiling students

The BHSEC Smart Scholars program was established in 2010 in order to provide the foundation for the Diversity Initiative’s goal – to ensure that students, who come from diverse cultures and backgrounds have an opportunity to complete the high school and college programs at BHSEC Manhattan with the same rate of success as their peers. It focuses on increasing the access to our early college experience for qualified, deserving and often underrepresented students from across New York City. The Program Directors work to offer additional social-emotional, academic and professional support, as well as leadership opportunities beyond those already offered by the school. Approximately one-third of the student body are Smart Scholars.

Candidates are enrolled into the Smart Scholars Program by invitation. Scholars enter BHSEC in the 9th grade and remain a scholar until they graduate. At the end of their four years, BHSEC Smart Scholars graduate with a high school diploma and a Bard College associate in arts (A.A.) degree, which equates to 60 transferable college credits.

Over the course of a Scholar’s academic career at BHSEC, he or she will be supported by the program in various ways including mentorship opportunities, academic/career coaching, social-emotional guidance, and the benefit of being a part of a close-knit, nurturing community of Scholars. This includes a peer mentorship program, invitations to career-oriented events and specialized classes, as well as professional development opportunities and other resources that promote their success in the early college program. 

The program’s aim is to focus on accomplishing the following goals: (1) strengthen our institutional relationship with Scholars and their families through targeted activities; (2) provide more opportunities for academic and personal growth, and professional development, especially after the 9th grade; and (3) implement social & emotional learning interventions that lead to successful outcomes for all Scholars.

To prepare our Smart Scholars for the academically challenging environment at BHSEC, we offer a 3-week summer enrichment program, immersing students within higher level Mathematics, Computational Science, and Arts courses, as well as introducing the writing seminar approach, and teaching critical study skills and success habits. The summer program typically culminates with a trip to Bard College, where the students participate in science laboratory experiments and discussions with Bard College faculty. All BHSEC Smart Scholars are expected to participate in the Summer Scholars Experience, and ultimately learn to work towards understanding the different, yet significant spaces they inhabit and how BHSEC represents these perspectives.

Diversity in the student body and community as a whole enriches learning experiences by broadening the perspectives both inside and outside of classrooms. The mission of the Diversity Initiative at BHSEC is to support and promote diversity within the BHSEC community. The “Big Sibs” component of Smart Scholars is a mentorship program that pairs students in the high school program with students in the college program. Its main goal is to enable Y1 and Y2 students to support 9th and 10th grade students, allowing students within the high school program to better set and achieve goals for themselves as they adjust to the BHSEC community. Once paired, “Little Sibs” meet with their “Big Sibs” weekly and also attend events together to strengthen their bonds. The program’s goals are to support our underclassmen, promote community engagement and to learn how to apply diverse mentorship experiences beyond the scope of BHSEC.

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