22% of students who enter CUNY community college graduate within 3 years and 55% who enter a four-year college graduate within 6 years.
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
Navigating College Life
-Identifying “Good Match” Careers
-Communicating with Professors
Working With Students
-Workshop Development & Facilitation
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.
- 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
See College Allies’s Program Rubric
How College Allies Works
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
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
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
Integrate Peer Leaders into existing program structures
Provide opportunities for Peer Leaders to collaborate with program staff
Share relevant data and its implications
Peer Leaders share how the College Access program has impacted them.