Our Story

Blue Engine was founded in 2010 to accelerate learning for low-income students.

Blue Engine was founded by a former educator, Nick Ehrmann, who began his career as a fourth-grade teacher in Washington, D.C. before going on to earn his doctorate in sociology at Princeton University. There, he studied chronic academic underperformance among his former students, and his work and research in the field led to a critical insight: raising expectations for students in underserved communities was not enough to overcome the barriers they faced. Expectations had to be coupled with additional, school-based support to confront academic deficiencies and convert those high expectations into more sustainable academic gains in college. Blue Engine was born to effectively prepare low-income students for higher education.

Blue Engine’s model has evolved to support all students. Over the years, we have worked in partnership with schools and teachers to test innovative uses of human capital and create classroom conditions that can empower every student to succeed. Blue Engine’s first school partnership began with 12 BETAs serving 186 students in Washington Heights. We have grown 10x since our start in 2010, with 72 BETAs serving more than 1,800 students across New York City today.

Sparked by interest from our school partners to apply the same practices in our BETA classrooms to classrooms with existing teams of teachers, we began implementing our co-teaching model in 2018. In our co-teaching program, instead of having BETAs in the classroom, we are capitalizing on existing talent in the system, by working with co-teachers to implement Blue Engine’s model. We are currently partnering with four high schools and serving an additional 200 students.

Since our founding, Blue Engine’s work has focused on testing a fundamental question: What would it take for classrooms to become more engaging and rigorous places for all students to learn?