College Allies

22% of students who enter CUNY community college graduate within 3 years and 55% who enter a four-year college graduate within 6 years.

The Impact of Peer Leadership

CARA’s College Allies program addresses college retention for first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color by training college students to support their peers through the obstacles to graduation.

Peer Leaders help students overcome the myriad of obstacles they have once they get to college: registering for courses, securing needed-services, navigating financial aid, and sifting through an overwhelming number of majors. They do this through:

  • Outreach to students via phone, text, social media, and in person
  • Hosting one- on-one and small groups meetings
  • Planning and facilitating targeted skill-building workshops and community building events
  • Connecting students to online navigational tools and resources

College Allies Program Model

  • CARA provides Peer Leaders with 70+ hours of training where they develop the skills and knowledge to support students through critical retention tasks, help them to develop campus navigation skills, and ensure that they integrate into their campus community.

    College Experience for First-Generation Students
    -Landscape of College Access & Success
    -Challenges to Persistence
    -Supporting Peers through Critical Retention Tasks
    -Creating Campus Communities

    Knowledge & Skills
    -Campus Resources
    -Class Registration
    -Degree Progress
    -Transfer Process
    -Financial Aid

    Navigating College Life
    -Exploring Majors
    -Identifying “Good Match” Careers
    -Overcoming Challenges
    -Communicating with Professors

    Working With Students
    -Counseling Skills
    -Outreach Strategies
    -Workshop Development & Facilitation
    -Data Tracking

    Peer Leadership for College Access & Success Core Competencies

    Peer Leadership for College Access & Success Professional Capacities

  • CARA collaborates with on-campus and community partners to help support the integration of Peer Leaders into existing retention programming.

    CARA assists Peer Leader supervisors by providing professional development to:

    • Support Peer Leaders using a youth development framework
    • Provide additional training to Peer Leaders to address specific program needs
  • CARA helps program leadership to integrate a peer-to-peer component into their retention program.

    This includes:

    • Consulting to program leadership to create a sustainable best practice peer-to-peer component of their model
    • Supporting the development of data tracking and evaluation tools
    • Developing systems to sustain Peer Leadership including hiring, training, supervision, and scheduling

Program Rubric

See College Allies’s Program Rubric

See our Theory of Change Model

How College Allies Works

Hire and Support Peer Leaders

Recruit and hire peer leaders to work 10-12 hours/week

Pay Peer Leaders through college funding streams at minimum or above minimum wage

Position advisor to conduct weekly supervision with Peer Leaders

Participate in Training & Evaluation

Ensure Peer Leaders and supervisors attend and participate in training

Track and share data on student benchmark completion with CARA

Ensure supervisors attend CARA's professional development programming

Create Conditions for Peer Leaders to Work with Students

Establish a dedicated location for Peer Leaders to meet one-on-one with students

Assign caseload of students to Peer Leaders each semester

Provide space and needed supplies for Peer Leader workshops and events

Collaborate with Campus-Based Programs

Integrate Peer Leaders into existing program structures

Provide opportunities for Peer Leaders to collaborate with program staff

Share relevant data and its implications

College Allies Reach

68 Peer Leaders being trained in 2022-23
10 Participating Sites
6500 College students served