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Forthcoming in Starting Up: Critical Lessons from 10 New Schools (Marv Hoffman & Lisa Arrastia, eds., Teachers College Press, 2012)


In April 1997, we left our jobs as lawyers to start a school for court-involved kids. We had $50,000, donated office space, and lots of energy. We had no staff, site, curriculum, or other funding. But we had a mission—we wanted to create the best school in the country for kids who had been arrested. And we were in a hurry. We knew kids who needed the school—and they needed it right then—not years down the line. Five months later we opened our doors to 20 kids and a small staff, crammed into a row house in the heart of Washington, DC. This is the story of how we got started.

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