Our Story

How it all started...

Thrive Collective originated in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1996 as a youth center in NYC Public Housing, founded by thirteen young people ages 14-21. For fifteen years, 85-90% of our students came from the public K-8 school across the street. In 2006, we began strategically bringing our services into the school building, and completed our first mural project at the school in 2007.

Within 3 years, PS/MS 34 was an A-rated school; by 2011 we incorporated Thrive Collective and transitioned to a school-based program model. Our success in melding youth leadership development, mentoring, and arts and culture broadened our reach to include schools and neighborhoods citywide. [More]

Expanding the vision...

In 2008, we launched an awareness campaign with an audacious 20/20 Vision for Schools: "We see college and career ready students graduating equitably across demographics and neighborhoods, with the skills and character necessary for life. We see an open-sourced standard of excellence replicated in city school districts and sustainable because of the responsibility shared by students and community partners."

Today in New York, 120 community organizations serve over 50,000 students at 150 public schools with wrap-around supports necessary to improve the quality of education for all students. We supplement the work of our partners with arts and mentoring programs in forty schools each year. Since 2014, we have served 15,000 students in our arts and mentoring programs in NYC, and our murals students have completed 168 projects totaling more than 75,000 square feet of public art. [More]

"Why do we tolerate a world where children born with God’s genius are going to school in environments that are not nurturing that genius and manifesting the divine within them? You’ve all been called here today with a great purpose. You’ve answered a call to do more, to act more. To show that the only poverty in this world that challenges us is not material poverty, but a poverty of faith, a poverty of imagination, a poverty of love and compassion, a poverty of action.”

- Senator Cory Booker to Thrive Collective organizers (9/18/08)

Where we are headed...

In 2021, Thrive Collective will launch School Partners USA to celebrate and accelerate school partnerships that improve educational and life outcomes for disadvantaged students.

By 2025, Thrive Collective will: 
  • Share best practices, training, and curriculum with leaders and school districts in 20 cities nationwide through School Partners USA.
  • Support school partnerships and arts education networks in those cities.
  • Serve 30% of NYC public schools directly or through our NY partners.
  • Help eradicate artless education in NYC and beyond.

Be a part of our story...

Enroll in our 2021 National Cohort.