In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Stephen Kaplan was involved for many years in New York City public school reform. He has chaired the development and establishment of an alternative elementary school - PS 51. He also received a New Vision II Award to open a public middle school in New York City. This school, the Jonas Bronck Academy, an educational collaboration with Manhattan College, originally located on the MC campus, has moved to a new location in the Bronx. Kaplan was engaged as a community organizer for over a decade working on the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory, an enormous abandoned building, as a commercial, recreational, and educational center.
Most recently, he initiated a new program at Manhattan College for veteran-students—Veterans @ Ease. Working in collaboration with Warriors at Ease, a non-profit dedicated to stress-reduction for veterans, and the Sivananda Ashram and Yoga Retreat (Bahamas), all incoming veteran-students are eligible to enroll in the introductory Religious Studies course (RELS 161). This course not only introduces student to the different ways to study religion and to a variety of different religions, but these particular sections introduce the students to Indic theories of mind and yoga. With this background, each veteran-student is invited, at MC expense, to attend a 4 day retreat run by Warriors at Ease at the Sivananda Ashram and to participate in follow-up sessions on campus. The goals of this program are 1) to facilitate the successful transition to civilian-academic life, 2) to introduce stress reduction techniques for daily use, and 3) to provide avenues for veteran-students to bond with other veteran-students.