College Achieve Public Schools Named Finalist for $1 Million Education Innovation Prize

The Asbury Park – Neptune school is one of just 64 finalists out of more than 2,000 applicants across the country.

ASBURY PARK, NJ– College Achieve Public Schools (CAPS), a network of K-12 schools in Asbury Park and Neptune Township, Paterson, and Plainfield, was named a finalist for the 2023 Yass Prize. The prestigious $1 million prize is considered the “Pulitzer of Education Innovation,” and recognizes education organizations for providing a sustainable, transformational, outstanding and permissionless education. As a finalist, CAPS is guaranteed to receive at least $100,000.

CAPS Asbury Park, which opened in the 2017-18 school year, was recognized for its commitment to prepare all students–regardless of background or family resources–to excel in and graduate from the top colleges and universities in the nation. On the most recent state tests, CAPS Asbury Park had the third-largest gains in the state in English Language Arts and was in the 98th percentile in math growth. Hispanic students at the school out-performed white students statewide in ELA (61.5% proficiency to 58.2% proficiency)— eliminating the achievement gap. CAPS Asbury Park will have its first high school graduating class this year.

“It has been a challenging last few years for our educators and students, and I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved,” said CAPS Asbury Park Executive Director Jodi Henderson McInerney. “We believe that a great education that takes care of our students’ hearts and minds can disrupt the cycle of poverty, and we won’t rest until each and every one of our students has that opportunity.”

Thirty-one states are represented among the 64 awardees who were evaluated in an intensive, three-tier process. This year’s Yass Prize finalists represent a microcosm of 21st century, personalized approaches that better educate students, pre-K and beyond. They include in-person, hybrid and online approaches, and some schools that offer all three; educational metaverses and AI-driven organizations adding important dimensions to address individualized student needs and education technology organizations with substantive solutions to declining student achievement. All applications underwent a thorough and comprehensive review process, including peer review.

“We founded CAPS on the belief that all students have unique gifts and talents–and if given access to a rigorous college preparatory program, they will soar,” said CAPS Founder Michael Piscal. “With an emphasis on providing an education grounded in character, community, emerging technologies, and an  individualized approach, Mrs. McInerney and the CAPS Asbury Park team are proving us right.  This year CAPS Asbury will send its first graduating class off to college prepared to excel in and graduate from college in 4 years.  This will transform their lives, their families and communities.  We are passionate about teaching our scholars how to think for themselves, dream big, and develop a college-graduating mindset.”

A key part of CAPS Asbury Park’s impressive academic results is their remarkable response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic started, school leaders stepped up and created an academic, mental health and social plan for our network that included full-day, synchronous virtual learning that felt much like a regular school day. When students returned, they implemented a robust high-dosage tutoring program that has earned national recognition.

The Yass Prize will disburse at least $20 million to education providers this year. The winner will be announced in December. All 64 awardees are listed on the Yass Prize website at

College Achieve Public Schools (CAPS) is a network of K-12 schools in Paterson, Plainfield, Asbury Park and Neptune Township that was created to serve youth who have enormous potential but limited resources. Its mission is to prepare all students to excel in and graduate from the top colleges and universities in the nation. For more information about our schools and how to enroll, visit us at