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Our Vision

To achieve educational equity for students from traditionally underserved communities by utilizing master teachers to provide rigorous Academics, Arts, and Athletics instruction (the 3 As).

TEP’s Visionary Founder

Zeke Vanderhoek, TEP’s Founder and first Principal, opened The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School in September 2009 in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. Zeke provided the inspirational vision and unyielding dedication to the school and its mission, and served for 12 years as Principal of TEP. Originally a 5th through 8th grade middle school, TEP now proudly serves 1,080 students in Kindergarten through 8th grade and remains committed to Zeke’s vision for educational equity. TEP’s current leaders, students, families, and staff are deeply grateful for Zeke’s work on behalf of the school and its students.


TEP aims to put into practice the central conclusion of a large body of research related to student achievement: teacher quality is the most important school-based factor in the academic success of students, particularly those from low-income families.

In singling out teacher quality as the essential lever in educational reform, TEP is uniquely focused on attracting and retaining master teachers. To do so, TEP uses a three-pronged strategy that it terms the 3 R’s: Rigorous Qualifications, Redefined Expectations, & Revolutionary Compensation.

Who We Serve

TEP is uniquely committed to serving a historically marginalized and under-resourced student population. Specifically:

90% of TEP students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a federal measure of poverty.

TEP’s student population is comprised of 91% Latinx and 8% African American students. Nearly 30% of students are classified as English Language Learners, a population that is typically underserved.

TEP is committed to serving students with a range of learning and behavioral representations. Currently, 22% of TEP students are Special Education students (or Students with Disabilities).

Racial Equity

TEP has been committed to achieving educational equity for traditionally underserved communities since our founding in 2009.  More recently, TEP has also made a more intentional, deliberate, and explicit commitment to achieving racial equity.

The Racial Equity Leadership Team (RELT) focused its work in the 2021-22 school year on the creation of TEP’s anti-racist mission statement.  We encourage you to take the time to learn about the statement here and to be an active part of the ongoing process of partnership and solidarity with all members of the TEP community – students, families, and staff.

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Teacher Equity