Hamilton Heights Academy (HHA) is a public elementary school program that was initially conceived in 2000 by a group of West Harlem parents who worked closely with the former superintendent of Community School District 6, Jorge Izquierdo, to create a neighborhood elementary school that was intimate, nurturing, and academically rigorous, serving a diverse community population, and was modeled on some of the most successful alternative schools in the city.

The steering committee and teachers of HHA founded the school on the belief that small, nurturing learning communities are important for children; that children learn best in an environment of active learning and purposeful investigation; that children thrive in an environment where family adults (parents and other caregivers) are involved in their educational lives; and where children are encouraged to inquire, to contemplate, to record, and to reflect in all they do both at school and at home.

HHA was conceived as a small school, with two classes per grade that would eventually grow to a kindergarten through 8th grade school, a model preferred by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.