A Themed Education: Q&A with The Bronx Academy of Letters

The state of public schools in the U.S. has become a public social cause, and a topic of great debate, in recent years. The school system shaping Millennials and post-Millennials has been called broken by some, but the solutions are less clear. Some champion charter schools as the future of the education system, others suggest banning private schools, and recently emphasizing early education by making it a part of the public system, has been held up as a possible solution.

The Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters was founded in 2003 during the “small schools movement,” a period of time that larger public schools were being sized down into more manageable organizations with focused curriculums. According to the NYTimes, since 2002 NYC has closed or started a phase out of 63 public high schools, and opened 337 in their place—many of them small themed schools. Today, the movement is continued in a slightly different way, and recently some large schools have been reorganized to house several smaller themed schools all under one roof. Themed educations, schools that focus their curriculums on one particular topic, have been happening all over the country and are one of the educational forces influencing some of the next generation.

The Bronx Academy of Letters is celebrating its 10th birthday, and we were able to sit down with the school’s Executive Director Carrie Angoff and Board President Toni Bernstein, two of the Academy of Letters Advisory Board members, to hear about the obstacles that young and underprivileged Millennials and post-Millennials are facing, and how one school has been working to fix the problem over the last decade.

 

Tell us a little bit about the ethos of the school. How is it different?

Toni: At the time [it was founded], there were these giant, very…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “The issue I am most passionate about is LGBTQ, because in the words of Dr. Seuss ‘A person is a person, no matter how small.’” –Female, 18, KY

Being able to mix up a good cocktail is an attractive quality to Millennials. A recent study commissioned by Southern Comfort found that 70% of single 21-34-year-olds who drink alcohol at least once a month would date a mixologist, and almost all (94%) say that they’re impressed by someone who can make a good drink. The survey on singles also found that 10% are intimated by whiskey (though we know that more of the generation is embracing it) and 44% are planning to stay home and cook for Valentine’s Day (which makes sense seeing as “home-cooked meal” is on their top 15 Valentine’s gift list this year). (Los Angeles Times)

Brands looking to get Millennials on their side need to speak to them—not like them. A survey on brand communication reveals that young consumers aren’t responsive to companies that use slang, emojis, and celebrity quotes. Two-thirds don’t find words like “bae” and “yasss” effective on social media platforms, 70% don’t like it when you say “on fleek,” and 83% think using abbreviations like LOL and FOMO are “a poor attempt by brands to relate to them.” Another word you should steer clear of is “Millennial”—42% loathe when advertisers say it. What’s important is communicating effectively without trying so hard to be “hip” (another word you shouldn’t use). (Adweek

Toyota’s Scion brand launched to build cars for the non-conformist Millennial, but the quirky line is being shut down. The unique-looking vehicle was originally a hit for younger consumers and Toyota reports that 50% of buyers were under 35-years-old. But sales peaked in 2006, and have been falling—not because those younger consumers stopped buying cars, but because they’re more interested in “performance and safety” than colorful design. For brands, the lesson may be that focusing on quality is “a better strategy than pursuing the ever-changing perception of cool.” (Forbes

As Millennials deal with the repercussions of student debt and low income, they may be turning to risky financial solutions to help them get by. The number of consumers taking out personal loans increased by 18% between 2013 and 2015, and a Bankrate survey found that 18% of 18-29-year-olds say they are very or somewhat likely to use a personal loan this year—more than any other age group. With 63% of U.S. adults lacking emergency funds, personal loans have become an easy option to get money quickly without negatively affecting their credit scores. (MarketWatchBankrate)

Time Inc. is continuing their pursuit of Millennial women with Motto, a new website targeting young female consumers with articles on “work, life, and play.” Time Digital’s managing editor reports that, “an enormous amount of [Time, Inc.’s] traffic, especially in social media, is about self-improvement and living a better life.” Motto will feature such “inspirational and motivational” daily stories and video content, which will be posted to Facebook and YouTube, written by Time magazine staffers, celebrities, and politicians. They expect more than 50% of readers to access the site through mobile and tablet. (The Wall Street Journal

Quote of the Day: “I learned to cook through ship to home meals like Blue Apron.” –Male, 24, IL

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