EB-5 New York has stake in Health Sciences' grad rate, citizenship

EB-5 New York has stake in Health Sciences' grad rate, citizenship

Health Sciences Charter School's first class of seniors tallied a 91 percent graduation rate, nearly double that of the city's public schools, said Hank Stopinski, school principal.

But none of it would have been possible without a federal program, EB-5, that allows foreign investors to back projects at $500,000 per family in return for two-year green cards. At the end of those two years, the investments are reviewed by the federal government. If it meets job creation measures, that green card becomes permanent.

Hank Stopinski, principal of Health Sciences Charter school, and Nicole Carrol, a teacher, explain the school's new Center for Innovation digital lab.

Hank Stopinski, principal of Health Sciences Charter school, and Nicole Carrol, a teacher explain the school's new Center for Innovation digital lab. - DF FOTOGRAPHY

Through EB-5 New York, a company located in the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center, several EB-5 projects have been established locally. That includes Health Sciences, where eight EB-5 investors accounted for $4 million of a $6 million overhaul to the school, which opened in September 2011.

The school now has more than 60 employees and is close to reaching its enrollment limit of 480 students.

The investors all had their reviews this summer and each was approved for a full green card. Two other medical campus-related projects — including the $34 million Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc. parking garage at Michigan Avenue and Goodell Street and the $173 million Gates Vascular Institute — were also backed through EB-5 New York though the investors.

According to EB-5 New York's principals, President and CEO William Gresser and Chief Operating Officer Robert Richardson, there are several other large-scale projects brewing, though they're not legally allowed to divulge details.

But the program's future is also contingent on the EB-5 program being renewed by U.S. Congress before it lapses in 2015. The program has been renewed at various times since its beginning in the mid-1990s, and Gresser said there is a full-scale advocacy effort to ensure that happens again.

Two Health Sciences' students, 17-year-old Latrice Parara and 15-year-old Gabrielle Page, sat in on a Business First interview Monday with Health Sciences and EB-5 officials. Parara said the school's presence allowed her to avoid less-than-ideal alternatives, while she's gotten internship opportunities at places like Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Parara is considering several different college options when she graduates this spring.

Page, a sophomore, said the school offers an ideal pathway toward her goal as a primary care physician. Through Health Sciences, she took a college course this summer in partnership with Unyts.




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