Big Picture Philadelphia

Skip to main content

Our History

2017: Vaux Big Picture High School opens with 125 ninth graders

In a four-way partnership with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Big Picture Philadelphia opened Vaux Big Picture High School. Housed in the historic Vaux building, Vaux Big Picture High School implemented a proven, internship-based academic model for rising 9th graders in fall 2017.  Part of the SDP’s Innovation Network, Vaux BPHS will stand out from other high schools in the area by virtue of its focus on student-centered learning. Ultimately, we envision Vaux as a keystone for transforming neighborhood. In addition, we hope that our innovative partnerships with PHA and the SDP will yield a wider pathway for replication in other neighborhoods in years to come.


2015: Big Picture Philadelphia wins approval to open a Community School in Sharswood

In response to the School District of Philadelphia’s Spring 2015 RFP to develop a new and innovative school in the recently formed Innovation School Network, Big Picture Philadelphia submitted a proposal and won support to open a new school in September 2017. The school, to be located in the Sharswood-Blumberg community of North Philadelphia, will serve students in grades 9-12. As the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) leads a massive community revitalization effort that will include new public housing, health and behavioral supports, and economic redevelopment of the Ridge Avenue corridor, Big Picture Philadelphia will develop the Community School at Sharswood in partnership with PHA as the project’s educational component.

2009: El Centro de Estudiantes opens its doors

In response to the School District of Philadelphia’s RFP in the winter of 2008 to develop innovative accelerated Breanna and Jazzalternative schools for students who are over-aged, under-credited, and have been pushed out of high school, Big
Picture Philadelphia submitted a proposal and won the contract to open El Centro de Estudiantes. In September 2009, El Centro opened its doors for 145 students at 2010 N Mascher Street, in the Kensington section of North Philadelphia. Since then, El Centro’s student population has grown to 200 students and, in 2012, the school moved four blocks north to 126 W Dauphin Street. El Centro has averaged a daily attendance rate of ___%, which is remarkable for a population of students who averaged 86 annual absences when they were last enrolled in high school. Additionally, El Centro boasts an 82% graduation rate.  For more information about El Centro, please follow this link.

2008: Big Picture Philadelphia founded

Confronted by a tremendous need for school reform and skyrocketing drop- and push-out rates in our city, David Bromley received tremendous support from Big Picture Learning to head up a local, independent, non-profit organization: Big Picture Philadelphia. Thus, in 2008, Big Picture Philadelphia was incorporated as a 501(c)3.

1995: The Big Picture model is born

The Big Picture model is the result of an educational reform movement that began in Rhode Island in 1995 under the leadership of two daring educators, Elliot Washor and Dennis Littky. Washor and Littky were fed up with the continued failure of the commonly utilized test-driven education model. Serendipitously, the Commissioner of Education in Rhode Island was feeling similar frustrations about the perpetual cycle of low achievement in its public schools. Upon learning that educational pioneers were brewing up a new model right in their own backyard, the State decided to take a gamble on an alternative method of schooling, granting the founders of the Big Picture model with an entire system of  State Charter schools. Most of the youth targeted for the first of these 6 new high schools entered with a previous history of low academic achievement, poor behavior, and a troubled home-life. The results were unprecedented. The youth became engaged and excited about school. Retention rates soared. The first class graduated in 2000 with a 96% graduation rate. 98% of the graduates were admitted to postsecondary institutions, and they received $500,000 in scholarship funds to help fund their college educations. There was no question: the Big Picture model was working.
Check out the video below about Real World Learning in the Big Picture network!