Near peers are a powerful source of support as first-generation high school seniors explore their post-secondary options and prepare for their next steps.


CARA’s Bridge program addresses the gap in postsecondary guidance for first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color by training current college students to provide individualized support for seniors throughout their senior year.  

Each participating high school embeds a Bridge Coach – usually an alumni of their school who attends a local college – into their postsecondary office, under the supervision of their counselor. Bridge Coaches assist the counselor to:

  • Support students’ exploration of colleges and other post-secondary destinations
  • Help students complete applications
  • Ensure student completion of necessary financial aid applications
  • Work with families as students make decisions in the spring
  • Prevent summer melt through providing outreach throughout the summer after graduation

At-risk youth aren’t the problem–but they can be part of the counseling solution

Op-Ed: The Hechinger Report (2020)

Based on research with College Bridge Coaches, this article describes the importance and efficacy of using peer-to-peer advising to support postsecondary access and success.

College Bridge Program Model

  • Bridge Coaches have 70+ hours of comprehensive training in postsecondary access content.

    Bridge Coaches develop a range of skills and content knowledge that they then use, alongside their unique near-to-peer perspective, to provide individualized support to graduating students. Trainings include the following topics:


    Postsecondary Applications:
    -CUNY System
    -SUNY System
    -Private Colleges
    -Certificate Programs
    -Workforce Training

    Financial Aid:
    -Financial Aid Applications
    -Financial Aid Packages
    -Opportunity Programs

    Working with Students:
    -Counseling Skills
    -Leading Postsecondary Transition Workshops
    -Supporting Undocumented Students

    Transition & Matriculation:
    -Decision making
    -Outreach and Engagement
    -Caseload Management
    -Data Tracking

    Peer Leadership for College Access & Success Core Competencies

    Peer Leadership for College Access & Success Career Capacities

    Table of Contents
  • CARA works with schools to help support the integration of College Bridge into existing college office work.

    CARA brings College Bridge supervisors together several times a year to support the implementation of the program at their individual schools. CARA also provides:

    • Counselor resources such as college match tools and income documentation forms
    • Support with data-tracking and planning
    • Opportunities to meet with high-level college admission professionals to discuss how admission policies impact students on the ground
    • Provision of workshops for College Bridge coaches to run in senior classes

How College Bridge Works

See College Bridge’s Program Rubric

See our Theory of Change Model

Hire a College Coach

Recruit one Bridge Coach per 100 seniors from your pool of alumni

Pay Bridge Coach $18 per hour for school-based work and training time (10 hrs/week + 74 hours training = 474 hours total) + pay CARA training fee

Make time available during the school day for Bridge Coach to work with students

Supervise your College Coach

Meet weekly with Bridge Coach throughout the school year

Attend CARA Supervisor meetings

Communicate with CARA as needed to support programming

Provide Summer Assistance

Supervise Bridge Coach at least five hours per week during the summer months

Provide space for College Coach to work and meet with students

Give College Coach access to student forms and information needed for college enrollment during summer

Participate in Evaluation

Track and report data to CARA

Participate in assessments as needed by CARA

Complete evaluations of College Coach

College Bridge Reach

46Peer Leaders being trained in 2022-23
35Participating sites
3200+Students being served

College Bridge Curriculum & Resources

CARA partner schools can log in to access College Bridge curriculum and resources by clicking the button below.

Access College Bridge Curriculum & Resources


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