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 a dozen BETAs serving over 100 students in Washington Heights. We have increased our impact tenfold since our start in 2010, with 46 BETAs serving more than 1,000 students across New York City today.
Sparked by interest from our school partners in applying the same practices from our BETA classrooms to classrooms with existing teams of teachers, we began piloting our Co-Teaching Program in 2018. In this program, instead of placing BETAs in the classroom, we are capitalizing on existing talent in the system by working with co-teachers to implement Blue Engine’s high-impact team teaching practices. Our Co-Teaching Program has grown exponentially since its inception, with twenty teams now serving over 800 additional students across ten partner schools.