About Us


What We Know

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95% of all high school
students have college aspirations.

The average counselor to student ratio in NYC public schools is 1:250, with counselors reporting they spend only 22% of their time on college guidance.

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

8% of 24 year olds from low- income backgrounds have attained a bachelor’s degree in comparison to 82% of 24 year olds from high-income backgrounds.

Our Approach

Our mission is to ensure that first-generation-to-college students, low-income students, and students of color have the knowledge and support necessary to enroll in and graduate from college. While these students need opportunities to learn about college and career pathways, most New York City public high schools and institutions of higher education are not structured to provide this assistance. Our programs, research, and policy work address these inequities.
We work with high schools. community-based organizations, and higher education institutions to craft a tailored mix of programs to meet their students’ needs. 

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. Right to College works with schools and organizations to integrate youth leadership into their college access programming, positioning young people to engage their peers in the post-secondary planning process. CARA trains high school students 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 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 their college search, application and decision-making process. College Coaches continue their work with students through the summer between high school graduation and college matriculation, when up to one-third of low income, first-generation students abandon their college plans. Strive for Success uses a near-to-peer model to ensure first-year college students integrate onto campus, use campus resources, and develop relationships critical to college success. Created and run in partnership with Graduate NYC!, CUNY Collaborative programs, and NYC-based CBOs, S4S trains students who have successfully completed one year of college to support incoming students to navigate frequent obstacles to persistence.

Research & Policy

CARA’s work grows out of its co-directors’ academic research into urban poverty, school reform, and pathways to higher education. CARA participates in a range of local and national level policy groups, taking 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 staff members continue to conduct research and publish in the fields of college access and success.

Our Reach

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More than 75 participating schools and organizations in all 5 boroughs.

More than 300 college and high school students trained each year to work with their peers in post-secondary planning.

An average of 30 new college-related lessons/ events per year at participating sites.

Over 15,000 students served across NYC.


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