When Hank Prybylski, EY Global Vice Chair, was first introduced to Harlem Academy by junior board member Tanner Powers, he was immediately drawn to the school’s mission. “I was struck by Harlem Academy’s vision of providing a pathway of opportunity that is centered on drive and ability,” he says.
The more Hank learned about the school, the more inspired he became, especially as someone who believes strongly in educational equity. “A student’s academic trajectory should not be set by their financial circumstances,” he explains.
Hank joined Harlem Academy’s board of trustees in 2019 and began working to help ensure a lasting pathway to success for many more students. As chair of the strategic planning committee, he helped to shape the school’s five-year plan in its permanent campus at 655 St. Nicholas Avenue.
“The new building will have a tremendous impact on future generations of students,” says Hank, pointing to the sunlight-filled classrooms, strong technology, expansive library, dedicated play yard, and more. “These are crucial for a child holistically – from their physical and mental health to their creativity to the development of their social skills and talents. Being a part of Harlem Academy reaching this wonderful milestone in its journey has been extremely rewarding.”
Hank’s support of Harlem Academy extends beyond helping the school plan for its future. He and EY teams are also committed to making a difference in students’ lives one-on-one.
The firm’s New York employees took part in three Harlem Academy volunteer programs, Personal Library Fairs, Chess Buddies, and Interview Prep. They read books together with students, played challenging games of chess, and held practice interviews with middle schoolers preparing for secondary school applications. “EY Connect Day is an annual event when we encourage all EY people to volunteer,” says Hank. “Our New York team really enjoyed their time getting to know the students and learning about Harlem Academy.”
For Hank, the academic rigor and impact of the school are just part of what drive his commitment. “It is the four community pillars – initiative, integrity, compassion, and determination – and how they are so tightly integrated in all students’ experiences at the school that makes me especially proud to be a supporter. Harlem Academy is focused on creating great students and future leaders who incorporate the School Creed into how they view themselves, their peers, and their communities.”
The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.