Ecological education . . . is directed toward changing our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections, and convictions. It requires breaking free of old pedagogical assumptions, of the straitjacket of discipline-centric curriculum, and even of confinement in classrooms and school buildings.
— Aldo Leopold

Grades K-2 start (ultimately K-12)

The anticipated opening date is TBD while the Board of Directors continues to develop plans.


The Rochester River Charter School is the first school in the country to be based on the principles of humane education, as well as the first public school in the country to offer a free, plant-based vegan school food program and curriculum. We will also be the first school in New York State (outside of New York City) to implement a teacher residency program. We hope that the school (both in terms of the physical space and programs) will eventually be a resource for other local district schools and neighborhoods, a center for environmental (broadly defined) change, and a model for schools nationally and even globally. Our school is modeled after both the Common Ground Charter School in Connecticut, which runs a school, farm, and environmental education center, and the Urban Assembly Harbor School in New York City. Like the Harbor School, we are attempting to create the best place-based, ecosystem-centered school in the country. In our vision, we anticipate a reorientation and reconnection toward the Genesee River, a currently underused, underappreciated, and underutilized waterway. We also expect that our school will act as a driving force for economic development in the neighborhood and eventually the larger community.

We expect to open the school in TBD with Kindergarten through second grades and add one grade each year until the school includes Kindergarten through 12. There will be 54 students in kindergarten and 75 students per grade level thereafter, separated into three sections per grade. The school is open to any student who lives in the City of Rochester, but on a blind lottery system of students who select the Rochester River Charter School. The school will ultimately be located in a new, state-of-the-art “green” building based on the principles of sustainability. In addition to the main school building, we expect to build two research field stations along the Genesee River. At the high school level, students will be expected to select a CTE (career and technical education) program of study in one of five primary focus areas: Marine Biology Research, Marine Systems Technology, Ocean Engineering, Professional Diving, and Vessel Operations. The first school-wide project is the Billion Bugs Project, the goal of which is education and conservation through the rearing, releasing, reestablishment, and monitoring of the Nine-Spotted Ladybug (the rare New York State insect) to Upstate New York.

Rochester River Charter School Vision Booklet

Design by Nikolas Whiteside