The Young Women’s Leadership Schools

In 1996, Ann and Andrew Tisch partnered with the New York City Department of Education to open The Young Women’s Leadership School (TYWLS) of East Harlem – the first all-girls public school to open in the United States in 30 years. Their vision was to provide girls growing up in underserved communities with a high-quality college preparatory education based on the finest private school models.

Today, Student Leadership Network (formerly known as Young Women’s Leadership Network) impacts more than 2,800 students at our five all-girls public schools in New York City and over 7,000 at our 16 national Young Women’s Leadership Network sister schools. Moreover, the success of our girls’ schools has inspired dozens of single-sex schools to open nationwide.

CollegeBound Initiative

In 2001, with a vision for making the dream of college a reality for students from underserved communities and first-generation college students, Student Leadership Network launched the coeducational CollegeBound Initiative (CBI). Today, over 16,000 students in 31 New York City public schools are impacted by CBI, which places full-time directors of college counseling (DCCs) in schools who, just as in the best private schools, do it all.

DCCs help students with college selection, tours, test prep, financial aid, scholarship resources, applications, essays, and interviews. The sole responsibility of CBI’s DCCs is to create a college-going culture across their schools, working with students as early as sixth grade.

Since its inception 19 years ago, CBI alumni have secured an estimated $700 million in scholarships and financial aid to make college more affordable and more accessible.

Student Leadership Network Milestones


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.


TYWLS of East Harlem launches the high school class with 9th graders while continuing to build the middle school.


Young Women’s Leadership Network (then the Young Women’s Leadership Foundation) is created to make our programming available to more students.


The CollegeBound Initiative program is piloted at TYWLS of East Harlem.


The first TYWLS affiliate school, The Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago, opens with 6th and 9th grade students.


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.”
– Oprah Winfrey

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.

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.”


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.


CollegeBound Initiative formalizes its first college partnership with Gettysburg College. They remain a key collaborator to this day.


TYWLS affiliate Irma Lerma Rangel School Young Women’s Leadership School is established in Dallas, Texas. It is the first all-girls public school in the state.


YWLN receives a $2.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand TYWLS in New York City.

Also in 2005

TYWLS of Queens, which is located in Jamaica, opens with 81 students. Today it has a student body of 550 students.


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.


CBI expands to serve more than 4,000 students at 9 partner schools.

Also in 2007

TYWLS Affiliate, Ann Richards School for Young Women’s Leadership School, opens in Austin, Texas.


TYWLS of Brooklyn opens with 63 students. Today it has a student body of 400 students.

Also in 2008

TYWLS Affiliate, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, opens in San Antonio, Texas.

Also in 2008

TYWLS Affiliate, Talkington School for Young Women Leaders, opens in Lubbock, Texas.


TYWLS Affiliate, Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, opens in Baltimore, Maryland.


CBI expands to serve more than 6,000 students at 13 partner schools.

Also in 2010

TYWLS Affiliate, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, opens in Fort Worth, Texas


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 graduates; news anchor Sade Baderinwa is the commencement speaker.

Also in 2011

TYWLS Affiliate, Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, opens in Houston, Texas.


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.

Also in 2012

Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Arnold, in Grand Prairie, Texas, joins the Young Women’s Leadership Network.

Also in 2012

YWLN Affiliate, Young Women’s College Prep Charter School of Rochester, opens in Rochester, New York.


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.


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.


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.

Also in 2015

YWLN Affiliate, Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, opens in Saint Louis, Missouri.


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.

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

Also in 2016

CBI students are the largest group of students represented at First Lady Michelle Obama’s National College Signing Day.

Also in 2016

Young Women’s Leadership School at Ysletta (in El Paso, Texas) and Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington (in Wilmington, North Carolina) join the Young Women’s Leadership Network.


Documentary filmmaker and Tony Award Winning Broadway Producer Amanda Lipitz, responsible for all of our films to date, directs and produces the award-winning movie “Step,” about our affiliate Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women’s step team.


In response to the fact that our work has expanded to impact young men and women through our work with CBI, we rebrand and are now Student Leadership Network.

Also in 2018 

We are now nationwide, coast to coast. Our affiliate network continues to grow with the addition of our first west coast school, Girls Academic Leadership Academy in Los Angeles.

Also in 2018 

Our first student is accepted and enrolls at Yale University.


The first all-girls school in Kansas City, YWLN Affiliate Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy, opens.

Also in 2019

Our Texas partner network, Young Women’s Preparatory Network, also continues to grow opening a new Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Midland.

Also in 2019

Our first student is accepted and enrolls at Harvard University.