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Validus Prep is partnered with New York City Outward Bound Schools and Expeditionary Learning Schools. Both organizations have been working to create dynamic schools across the U.S. for many years. For more info, go to our Partners page or visit their websites at New York City Outward Bound (NYCOB) and Expeditionary Learning Schools (ELS).

We have partnerships with Tuoro College and CUNY College Now so that our students can earn college credits while still in high school.

In addition, we have partnerships with buildOn and Bronx Works which provide service learning and leadership opportunities for our students.

In the past, we have had fruitful partnerships with the NYC iZone,  Big Picture Learning and Teaching Matters.

What is Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound?

Expeditionary Learning is a school model that emphasizes high achievement through active learning, character growth, and teamwork. Expeditionary Learning emphasizes five core practices and ten design principles that support teaching and learning in its schools.

The Expeditionary Learning Core Practices:

  • Learning Expeditions: These challenging, real-world projects and in-depth studies act as the primary curriculum units in Expeditionary Learning schools. Learning Expeditions support literacy and address central academic standards of content, while promoting character development and fostering a service ethic.
  • Active Pedagogy: In Expeditionary Learning schools, teachers plan engaging experiences to help students become active and collaborative learners: to make connections, to find patterns, to see events from different perspectives, to experiment, to go beyond the information given, and to develop empathy and compassion for events, people, and subjects.
  • School Culture and Character: Expeditionary Learning builds shared beliefs, traditions, and rituals in order to create a school culture which is characterized by a climate of physical and emotional safety, a sense of adventure, an ethic of service and responsibility, and a commitment to high quality work.
  • Leadership and School Improvement: Adults in EL schools create a professional community that focuses on students and their learning. Strong relationships with staff, parent involvement and community partnerships are fostered.
  • School Structures: Expeditionary Learning schools use longer and more flexible schedule blocks, common planning time for teachers, mixed student groupings, crew (advisory program), and multi year relationships to ensure student success. Intensives (5-10 days special sessions for enrichment or add’l support held 1-2 times per year) and a variety of before/ after school programs provide additional opportunities for students. 
  • The Design Principles: Expeditionary Learning is built on ten design principles that reflect the values and beliefs of Outward Bound:

            • Primacy of Self Discovery
            • Empathy and Caring
            • The Primacy of Self-Discovery
            • Success and Failure
            • The Having of Wonderful Ideas
            • Diversity and Inclusion
            • The Responsibility for Learning
            • The Natural World
            • Collaboration and Competition
            • Service and Compassion

What’s the Outward Bound connection?

Expeditionary Learning applies Outward Bound’s principles and practices to the classroom:

  • Learning by doing in a variety of contexts and environments (fieldwork and using community resources)
  • Highly focused instruction with maximum of application
  • Modeling, doing and thinking together versus passive, episodic experiences
  • Challenge, emotion and teamwork to help everyone succeed


In ELOB schools, fostering character growth and responsibility is as important as teaching academic skills. Students are placed in a crew of about 12-15 students. Crews have adventure experiences and participate in community service and fitness activities to develop teamwork and friendship. They also meet on a regular basis to discuss literature they have read, current world concerns, or issues within the crew or school community. Crew is the place to celebrate success, challenge negative behavior, and provide mutual support.

Adventure and Fitness

Adventure, fitness and nutrition for students are integrated into academic work, the physical education curriculum, and the values of the school to help build courage, character, teamwork and community. Students participate in daily physical exercise and monitor their progress in fitness and nutrition. All 9th graders and their teachers participate in a full Outward Bound adventure experience.

Life After High School

The Expeditionary Learning high school’s curriculum provides students with a broad range of choices after they graduate. They will have met college entrance requirements. EL high schools also support students by setting up internships, taking students to visit colleges, making post graduation plans and helping students with the college application and the financial aid process.

Portfolio and Graduation

Students use portfolios to organize their work and reflect on their progress. Every student selects pieces of work to include in each discipline’s portfolio. As they approach graduation, students pull examples of their best work from each discipline portfolio to put in their graduation portfolios. Each student presents this portfolio, as well as documentation of her or his senior expedition, to a panel of adults as a requirement for graduation.


“We empower U.S. urban youth to transform their neighborhoods and the world through intensive community service. Globally, we’re constructing a new school every three days in some of the economically poorest countries around the world.”


buildOn works with the Validus community to provide:

·         service-learning opportunities connected to learning expeditions

·         3 school-wide service days each year

·         Saturday/Holiday/After School service opportunities

·         Peer mentoring program for 20 pairs of upperclassmen and 9th graders

·         Trek: opportunities for 12 Validus students to travel to one of our seven program countries (Nicaragua, Nepal, Haiti, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali) to start construction of a primary school. Students travel in either February (Winter Break) or July.

·         Two 2 week Summer Leadership Camps