About Us


What We Know


What We Know

95% of all high school
students have college

55% of high school
graduates from
low-income families
enroll in college in
comparison to 84%
from high-income

8% of 24 year olds from
backgrounds have
attained a Bachelors
Degree in comparision
to 82% of 24 year olds
from high-income

There is a lack of
guidance and support
around the college
application and
enrollment process
in many schools that
serve first generation

college students have
inadequate access to
knowledge about
college and its
complex application,
financial aid, and
enrollment process.

Our Approach

Established in 2011, CARA evolved out of its founders’ deeply-rooted experiences in New York City schools and youth development organizations. Its model grew out of a need, increasingly identified in both spaces, to equip and empower first-generation-to-college students as they sought to pursue higher education in a changing economic landscape. CARA works within these schools and CBOs, equipping them with tools that help young people build “knowledge about college”, strengthen navigational skills, and develop multicultural college-going identities. CARA has worked to cull a set of best practices for this work, to see more click here.

CARA’s Programs

College Inquiry
works strategically with schools and organizations to develop comprehensive college-access programs and strong college-going cultures. Through College Inquiry, CARA offers coaching, a comprehensive curriculum for grades 6-12, resources for professional development, and tools for developing a college office.
Youth Leadership for College Access and Success Programs
work with schools, colleges and organizations to integrate youth leadership into their college access and retention programming, positioning high school and college students to engage their peers in the post-secondary planning and transition process. CARA trains youth leaders to provide workshops and one-on-one support to their peers, coaches adult staff to integrate youth leader work into their program, and connects sites to one another to share best practices.
College Bridge
supports first-generation college-bound students in the summer between high school graduation and college matriculation, when up to one-third of low income students abandon their college plans. CARA trains and supports current college students to work as “college coaches” in their alumni high schools, assisting graduating seniors as they navigate the many obstacles that arise during this critical time.

Research & Policy

We take what we learn from working alongside young people and adults in the field to improve practice, inform research, and advocate in the policy arena. CARA’s programs also work strategically to allow young people themselves to influence the programs and policies that are aimed at them. CARA participates in a range of local and national level policy groups focused on college access and success, including the Education Funders Research Initiative and the College Access Affinity Network. CARA staff have also published articles, white papers, and reports based on our research in the field of college access and persistence. For more on CARA’s research, go to the Research link on our website.



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