Andrew Schmeelk plays for for East Harlem School

PwP had the chance to catch up with Andrew Schmeelk, 2014 PwP Novice Class participant and Associate at Morgan Creek Capital Management

PwP: Please describe how you became involved with / aware of East Harlem School?

Andrew: I chose the East Harlem School because they are a truly great institution changing the lives of New York City youths. The East Harlem School at Exodus House is an independent middle school that educates students who are looking to fulfill their academic potential. The School accepts children from low income families and helps these students develop to be successful across all areas of their lives. Some close family friends have been long time supporters of EHS, and I was fortunate enough to attend a program in which I was able to speak with a number of current and former students. It was heartwarming to hear the children describe how the East Harlem School had changed their lives, and how teachers and staff became extended members of their families.  83% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, which is as high or higher than any charter school. Through a robust curriculum, an 11 month school year with optional Saturday school for all students, students are given the resources and cultivation needed to succeed.  Nearly 90% of their 8th graders depart 8th at or above grade level in reading, and nearly 100% of 8th graders score at or above level in math (over 75% of incoming students begin significantly below grade level). In addition to their unique academic program, the school also offers a full athletics program and a recently implemented visual arts program

PwP: What investment philosophy did you employ to get onto the leaderboard in the Novice Class?

Andrew: Working at Morgan Creek has afforded me the ability to speak with some of the smartest investors in the world.  Much of my portfolio construction this year has been a by-product of what we have been doing in the Morgan Creek Global Equity Long/Short Fund.  One of the major themes in the portfolio has been the rise of the Chinese Consumer, specifically within e-commerce.  Within this space Vipshop has been my biggest winner YTD, and should continue to benefit from the rapid growth of the middle class in China.  Another name that has worked nicely, centers on consolidation within the DRAM.  Micron has benefited from a consolidated number of players in the space, as well as its strategic partnerships and acquisitions that have led to new business with players such as Apple. The other major theme in my portfolio has been Abenomics, which has been a mix trade YTD. That being said I continue to be constructive on Japan, as the country’s largest pension fund, GPIF, recently shifted its’ allocation model to include a substantial increase to Japanese equities. The delay in the consumption tax should also serve as a nice tail-wind. Hopefully I can finish the year on a strong note, and support a great school with a great cause.

PwP: How did you hear about Portfolios with Purpose?

Andrew: I first heard about Portfolios with Purpose from a colleague who participated in the 2013 edition. I was able to learn more about PwP from Stacey Asher at last year’s iCIO Summit. Stacey walked me through the background of the organization and the great work they were doing. It has been a great year, and I look forward to participating in the 2015 edition of PwP.

History of Exodus House

Exodus House has been an iconic institution in Harlem since its founding in 1963 as a drug rehabilitation center. Due to a heightened concern for the welfare and well-being of the community’s many underserved, at-risk children, Exodus House was converted in 1984 to an after-school and summer program facility.

The Beginning of East Harlem School

In 1993, The East Harlem School was born out of the original Exodus House site to include an independent year-round middle school to better address the needs of local children. EHS has since been committed to helping 4th through 8th graders from low-income families develop the physical, moral, and intellectual strength necessary to excel in their future endeavors and give back to their communities. Ivan Hageman is the co-founder and Head of School of The East Harlem School.

EHS Impact

EHS educates middle school students from East Harlem who wish to rise to their academic potential—focusing on children who exude the desire to learn and challenge themselves to succeed. The school has a proven track record of success—over 75% of students arrive at EHS significantly below grade level in fourth grade, but by eighth grade, nearly 90% graduate at or above grade level in reading and nearly 100% graduate at or above grade level in math.

EHS offers curriculum enriching opportunities for all of its students, including a visual arts program, a science room greenhouse, spring musical performances, and a diverse array of athletic opportunities, including yoga, swimming, conditioning, lacrosse, soccer, track, and wrestling. Not only that, but in addition to the regular 10-month school year, EHS offers a mandatory 5-week session to promote further skill-building and enrichment opportunities.

The East Harlem School at Exodus House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides an innovative and comprehensive education thanks to the generosity of its loyal alumni and donors. The annual cost of educating an EHS student is $15,327 but with the support of donors (and possibly Andrew/PwP), 100% of students pay reduced tuition. 

If you are interested in learning more about the East Harlem School and/or donating, please visit www.eastharlemschool.org or contact Sheila Nelson, SNelson@eastharlemschool.org

Saundra Marcel