Students in a sunlit classroom at Ascend Learning

An inspiring environment for learning

Ascend Learning, Brooklyn, New York

Ascend Learning has a very specific approach to their physical space. “When our students enter the building in the morning, it should be a beautiful environment that speaks to the aspirations we have for them,” says Susan Pollock, Chief Real Estate and Planning Officer. “Everything about the building is designed to communicate the academic excellence for which we strive.”

With nine schools serving 3500 students in seven facilities across central Brooklyn, it isn’t easy to achieve those design standards, especially when the buildings are only vacant for six weeks in the summer—a tight window between the end of classes and the beginning of teacher-training sessions. But Ascend manages, transforming dreary old school buildings into light-filled spaces that are warm and happy. Even the corridors are inspiring, hung with reproductions from New York museums—art that is woven into the education. “We do it economically,” Pollock hastens to add. “It doesn’t cost any more to paint the walls a beautiful gray or a mysterious blue.”   

Together with the Nonprofit Finance Fund, BlueHub Capital is a funding partner in three current renovations. “Before they were interested in funding our physical spaces, they were interested in our academic offerings, the families and communities we were serving and how we were serving them,” Pollock states. “They asked tough questions to understand who we were and what we were trying to accomplish.” Financing from the BlueHub Loan Fund, known during the initial stages of the project as the Boston Community Loan Fund, helped renovate two floors of the former Loew’s Pitkin Theater in Brownsville to house Ascend’s first high school. With science labs, music labs, a library and standard classrooms it’s a big project—and essential to Ascend’s students. Pollock says that BlueHub Capital was "critical for us. We wouldn’t have been able to go forward with these renovations if they hadn’t invested in us. Thank you.”

students served