Annual Reports


In 1999, Steve Klinsky, a philanthropist, businessman, and education reformer, organized and wrote the application for the first charter school to open its doors in the state of New York, the Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem. He and the educational advisory group he assembled for this purpose, Victory Schools, then helped organize about twenty other pioneering and highly successful charter schools around the country. Subsequently, Klinsky organized other friends, philanthropists, and civic leaders to create the Great Oaks Foundation, with Klinsky as founder and board chair and Michael Duffy as the Foundation’s president.

The first Great Oaks charter school opened in Newark, NJ, with an emphasis on using high-dosage tutoring to help prepare students for success in college. In leading this work, Klinsky drew on his earlier experience starting the Gary Klinsky Children’s Center in East New York, named for his late brother who had tutored him when they were children. The Great Oaks Foundation operated as a non-profit charter management organization (CMO) and subsequently spearheaded the creation of charter schools throughout the Northeast. Klinksy retired from the board in 2019 and Adam Weinstein became chair. In 2021, in the wake of the COVID pandemic, the board of the Great Oaks Foundation modified the organization’s mission to focus on providing high-dosage tutoring, as research and experience showed the effectiveness of this intervention.

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