The Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) is a nonprofit organization that carries forward the history of two respected public education organizations that merged in 2000: the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) and the Public Education Association (PEA). CEI was first established in 1989 as a component of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and aimed to transform public education by shifting accountability from bureaucracies to schools as a means of creating public school choice for communities.

The Public Education Association (PEA) was founded in 1895 and for over 100 years worked for systemic and sustainable reform of the city’s public school system. For 15 years, the organization used both names together and was known as the “Center for Educational Innovation – Public Education Association” (CEI-PEA). While today the name is shortened to just CEI, we maintain the ideals and mission of both organizations. Together, the organizations’ histories mark some of the most important milestones for advancing New York City’s public school system.


Tombs School1896 – PEA created the “Tombs School,” the first school in New York City jails.

1919 – PEA initiated a campaign for the first hot school lunch program in New York City.

1935 – PEA launched the All Day Neighborhood Schools program to test the extended use of school facilities and parent involvement.

1956 – PEA produced a landmark study of segregation and inferior schooling for minority children and created the School Volunteer Program, which was the first formal volunteer program and was replicated nationwide.

Miracle in East Harlem

1974 – CEI Senior Fellows began the first public school choice program in New York City’s East Harlem.

1975 – To  facilitate community and parent involvement in the public schools, PEA published the first Candidate’s Manual for the Election of Community School Board members.

1985 – CEI Senior Fellows recognized by the White House for creating “schools that work.”

1987 – PEA issued “Governing NYC Schools,” a report calling for sweeping reforms in the role of the New York City Schools’ Chancellor, Board of Education and Community School Boards.

1992 – PEA published landmark studies of small schools and operating costs that demonstrated that small schools are both educationally desirable and cost-efficient.

1994 – CEI became a founding partner in the Annenberg Challenge grant to create small public schools and networks among New York City schools.

1997 – CEI established the School Leadership Academy under the direction of Dr. Lorraine Monroe to develop and train in-service principals.

Charter School Leg Slide

1998 – CEI established the first charter school resource center in New York State.

2000 – CEI and PEA merged to form the “Center for Educational Innovation – Public Education Association” (CEI-PEA).

2003 – CEI-PEA launched Project BOOST to provide academic, social and cultural enrichment to under-achieving fourth through eighth-grade students with the ultimate goal of helping them gain admission to quality high schools.

2004 –CEI-PEA launched an initiative to develop public school choice programs in five major cities across the United States through a multi-year grant from the United States Department of Education.

2007 –CEI-PEA selected as a Partnership Support Organization (PSO) for New York City public schools; awarded $10.5 million federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant to launch PICCS: Partnership for Innovation in Compensation for Charter Schools.

2008 –CEI-PEA launched 21st Century Community Learning Center programs with three New York City public schools.

2010 – Number of schools selecting CEI-PEA as their Partnership Support Organization rises to 118, PICCS expands to 13 new charter schools in New York City and Buffalo with $17.5 million in federal Teacher Incentive Fund grants, and a national Network of Independent Charter Schools is launched with a $2 million federal grant.

2013 – CEI-PEA receives funding to expand arts programming into more than 160 New York City public schools, launches the Franklin Covey Leader in Me program to improve learning environments in public schools.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 2.10.21 PM2014 – 207 schools select CEI-PEA as their Partnership Support Organization, which makes our PSO the sixth largest public school system in the United States.

2015 – The organization shortens its name to “Center for Educational Innovation” (“CEI”) and launches new initiatives focused on easing the use of technology in the classroom and helping middle schools transform for 21st-century learners.