Skip to main content


New York, NY (APRIL 21, 2022)– The International Academy of Hope (iHOPE) is moving to Midtown Manhattan. Tripling in size, the highly specialized school serving young people with traumatic brain injury will relocate from its home in West Harlem to a brand-new 85,000 square feet site at 825 Seventh Avenue at the corner of West 53rd Street. In addition to offering a range of education and therapy services under one roof, the larger facility will allow students currently on the wait list to benefit from a literacy-rich curriculum that incorporates multidisciplinary and collaborative models including cognitive strategies, small group instruction, assistive technology, therapeutic intervention, behavior management, physical rehabilitation, social interaction, and transition services.

“Our new facility is a dream come true,” said Shani Chill, Principal. “iHOPE students deserve access to a comprehensive curriculum, as well as the same social and recreational opportunities as their peers. iHOPE’s new home comes close to delivering on every promise we’ve made.”

Designed by LB Architects, iHOPE’s state-of-the-art facility will provide access to young people who cannot be served in conventional classrooms. For the first time in iHOPE’s nine-year history, students will have access to myriad amenities without having to travel for specialized services. The new iHOPE features 20 classrooms with built-in tracks for Hoyer lifts, three gymnasiums with adapted physical therapy equipment, 20 therapy rooms, sensory rooms, an assistive technology workshop, an aquatic center complete with a pool, and a model apartment where students will work on independent living skills.

“My daughter is excited for the bright new classrooms with desks that will accommodate her equipment, to get her therapies in the beautiful new gyms, and especially excited for the aquatic therapy pool. Thank you to everyone who made this happen for my daughter and future new students,” said Cheri Holstein, an iHOPE parent.

Because most iHOPE students do not have functional use of their hands, arms, legs, or the ability to communicate verbally, assistive technology is a fundamental part of their education. Accessible and alternative communication devices, adapted ambulation equipment and robotic walkers are integrated throughout the curriculum, giving students greater agency.

Other details of the new school include a mural donated by artist Tony Sjoman and separate suites for iHOPE’s expanding team of professionals.

iHOPE is part of YAI, which offers a comprehensive range of services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 2013, the school fulfills the unmet needs of students with traumatic brain injuries in the community while serving as a model of best practices in the delivery of special education services.

“By working together, our dedicated staff of special educators, related service providers, paraprofessionals, and administrators, create and implement individualized programs for every student, no matter what their needs,” said Chill. “iHOPE is a school filled with love, laughter, and celebrations of progress, big and small. Our new site will enable us to continue to bring joy and real change to our incredible students.”


Kamana Shrestha

ABOUT YAI: Founded in 1957, YAI remains at the forefront of an extraordinary movement aimed at empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. YAI and its network of affiliate agencies offer children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities a comprehensive range of services. YAI is committed to seeing beyond disability, providing opportunities for people to live, love, work, and learn in their communities. YAI’s 4,000 employees provide supportive housing, education, medical, dental, and mental health care, job training, community integration, and social enrichment for more than 20,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families, in New York, New Jersey, and California.