Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Bank Street, Pratt Launch Public High School in Downtown BK with Special Focus on Design, Social Justice

Design Works High School, a collaboration between Bank Street College of Education and Pratt Institute, opens this September in a collaborative effort to reprioritize the arts and equity in primary education.
Photo: Provided/Design Works High School.

Design Works High School, a brand new school in Downtown Brooklyn, is gearing up to welcome its first-ever class of ninth graders next month.

The new school's opening comes after a years-long collaboration between Bank Street College of Education and Pratt Institute to create a program that directly challenges the inadequate prioritization of design and equity in public education, according to the Design Works interim principal. 

"Design Works is unique," said Design Works High School Project Director and Interim Principal Corinth Hunter. "We are offering an opportunity and experience where all stakeholders can truly co-design in community with one another. We are welcoming all students to come and learn and share their viewpoints because we know all voices in our community are of value and are needed. ... We are giving students the space to combine their gifts and talents in order to build something better for the community."

The new high school, which features 80-95 students per grade, is funded in part by the XQ Institute, NewSchools Venture Fund and the New York City Department of Education. The school has special partnerships with local organizations including BRIC and Brooklyn Academy of Music. 

The partnership unites Pratt's excellence in art and design and Bank Street's learner-centered teaching approach with the needs of District 13 parents and educators. Hunter said that local parents and educators were directly involved in the brainstorming process at several community events. 

"This brainchild has been about three years in the making," said Hunter. "Pratt and Bank Street were putting their heads together and truly co-designing a revolutionary learning opportunity for young people that could sit in the public space that anyone could have access to and have the opportunity to benefit from." 

The high school, which is located at 424 Albee Square West, combines design thinking with a focus on social justice. The Design Works curriculum revolves around strong personal relationships and applied practice, giving students the tools to become change-makers in their communities.

"We have intentionally designed the school around what the community asks for," said Hunter. "The pathways we have and offer are what parents wanted to see different in their communities and what they wanted they wanted their young people to learn about was urban planning, technology and housing. 

"These are booming fields. These are fields that Pratt can support really well and because that's what families and communities feel Brooklyn needs re-envisioning in right now."

As a part of the curriculum, students will dive into courses emphasizing equity in the arts, in the tech industry and in housing. Design Works educators will create project-based, hands-on learning experiences connected to students’ real lives, allowing the classroom to extend past school walls.

With a strong emphasis on design, self-empowerment and equity, Design Works High School is a promising model for the arts to empower students to shape their desired futures.

For more information on Design Works High School, click here. The waitlist for ninth grade is currently open. School will begin Sept. 7.