Student Sponsor Partners

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Student Sponsor Partners
Ssp new logo, green tree.jpg
Founded 1986
Founder Peter Flanigan, Founder
Type Nonprofit organization

Student Sponsor Partners is a nonprofit organization based in New York City founded by Peter Flanigan in 1986. Student Sponsor Partners (SSP) gives at-risk students in New York City the opportunity to receive a non-public high school education, through the financial support of a sponsor and one-to-one guidance of a mentor.


During the winter of 1986 a conversation took place between two bankers on how to help at-risk inner city kids. They decided to try giving these young people scholarships to private inner city schools, and mentor these kids throughout their high school careers. The conversation caught wind of some thoughtful individuals. By the following September, 45 sponsors were supporting 45 students at Cardinal Hayes High School and Cathedral High School. Since then, nearly 7,000 SSP students have graduated from high school, and in 2015 1,100 SSP students were enrolled in the 23 partner schools.

For over 29 years, Student Sponsor Partners has addressed the high school dropout crisis [1] in New York City by providing under-served students with four years of college-preparatory education. All SSP students are paired with sponsors and mentors who offer financial support and one-to-one mentoring, thus making a meaningful impact on their lives while guiding them through their high school careers. [2]

Program description[edit]

The SSP program is composed of three key groups: students (1,400 in 2012), sponsors and mentors (2,000 in 2012), and partner schools (27 in 2012). SSP students are selected according to their financial, academic and social need. SSP students typically have a family per-capita annual income of less than $10,000, score at or below standards on middle-school reading and/or math standardized tests, and live with a single parent or guardian.

SSP sponsors and mentors are educated professionals who make a four-year commitment to support a student. In addition to making a financial contribution toward their students’ tuition costs, mentors become role models for their students and help guide them academically [3]

SSP Partner Schools maintain a structured and nurturing learning environment, and they have a long history of educating the New York City students.[4] Each school assigns a dedicated coordinator to monitor and support SSP students’ progress, and maintain regular contact with SSP families, mentors and program staff. SSP’s twenty-three participating schools are located in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx. Most of SSP’s schools are Catholic schools.


Statistics have shown that:

  • Over 85% of SSP students graduate from high school each year. This compares to a rate of approximately 61% among their peers in New York City’s public schools.
  • In the graduating class of 2015, 96% of SSP graduates are going on to college. Only about 50% of New York City’s public high school graduates attend college.
  • The class of 2015 is financing their college education through nearly $33 million in scholarships and grants.
  • Throughout Student Sponsor Partners’ history, students have been the recipients of the New York Times Scholarship, the Gates Millennium Scholar,and the POSSE Foundation Scholarship.

Participating schools[edit]

The following schools are part of Student Sponsor Partners as of October 2015:

  • Academy of Mount St. Ursula (Girls)
  • All Hallows High School (Boys)
  • Aquinas High School (Girls)
  • Bishop Kearney High School (Girls)
  • Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School (Co-Ed)
  • Cardinal Hayes High School (Boys)
  • Cathedral High School (Girls)
  • Christ the King Regional High School (Co-Ed)
  • Cristo Rey (Co-Ed)
  • La Salle Academy (Boys)
  • Holy Cross High School (Boys)
  • Martin Luther School (Co-Ed)
  • The Mary Louis Academy (Girls)
  • Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School (Co-Ed)
  • Mount St. Michael Academy (Boys)
  • Preston High School (Girls)
  • St. Barnabas High School
  • St. Jean Baptiste High School (Girls)
  • St. Joseph High School(Girls)
  • St. Raymond Academy(Girls)
  • St. Raymond High School for Boys


Year Milestone
1986 Peter M. Flanigan founds Student Sponsor Partners, and that fall 45 students supported by 45 sponsors and mentors start ninth grade at Cardinal Hayes High School and Cathedral High School in New York City.
1988 SSP expands network to include 11 partner schools and reaches beyond Manhattan and the Bronx into Brooklyn.
1990 SSP sees its first class graduate from the program.
1995 930 SSP students meet with Colin Powell at Cardinal Hayes High School
1997 For the first time SSP starts the school year with over 1,000 students in partner schools.

Five alumni begin a trend that continues to grow– they themselves became sponsors and mentors.

1998 Student Sponsor Partners’ partner schools network grows to 20, with schools in every borough except Staten Island.
1999 SSP recruits 410 sponsors and mentors– the largest number to date.
2000 SSP holds its First Annual Founder’s Dinner, which raised over $1 million.
2001 David Dunn, a longtime supporter of SSP, becomes an extraordinary supporter, funding the education of 100 students with a gift totaling $500,000 a year. He later increases his gift to $750,000 annually, which funds 150 students.
2004 347 SSP students graduate in the class of 2004– the largest SSP graduating class to date.
2008 SSP receives the first of 2 anonymous $1 million gifts, the largest one time gift in the organization’s history.
2009 SSP hosts its Tenth Annual Founder’s Dinner.

SSP develops strategic partnerships with organizations like the Diocese of Brooklyn.

2011 SSP celebrates its 25th anniversary.

525 freshman students enter 26 partner schools– the largest entering class in SSP’s history. Valerie Rowe, SSP Board Member, donates $1 million to fund the education of 69 students.

2012 SSP honors Colm Kelleher, Co-President of Morgan Stanley Institutional Securities and Head of EMEA and Asia Pacific, at the Thirteenth Annual Founder’s Dinner. The event draws 620 guests and raises $2.1 million.
2014 SSP appoints Denise Durham Williams as Executive Director.
2015 Of the 388 SSP graduating students in the Class of 2015, 96% were accepted into college.

SSP launches College & Career program to ensure SSP high school students are receiving the tools they need to gain access to the college of their choice and provide them with information to ensure they receive financial funds to ensure they graduate college.

Notable donors[edit]

The Flanigan Society[edit]

  • Diocese of Brooklyn
  • Carson Family Charitable Trust
  • The Clark Foundation
  • Dee and Kevin Conway
  • Credit Suisse Americas Foundation
  • Credit Suisse Fixed Income Division
  • David J. And Marilyn B. Dunn
  • Peter M. Flanigan
  • Goldman, Sachs & Co.
  • The Kovner Foundation
  • Kate and Robert Niehaus
  • Partnership for Inner-city Education
  • Valerie and Jack Rowe
  • Peter Jay Sharp Foundation
  • William E. Simon Foundation
  • Tiger Foundation

Members of The Flanigan Society have donated more that $1 Million over the course of 25 years