Where We’ve Been

CARA was founded in 2011 with the goal of developing programs, conducting research, and advocating for policies that would better support New York City public school students to and through college.

Co-Directors Janice Bloom and Lori Chajet used their previous 20+ years of working in NYC public schools, coupled with findings from doctoral research they conducted on college access and persistence for first-generation college students, to shape the organization and its agenda.

In its first year, CARA had two programs that served 8 high schools and reached approximately 1,000 students. In 2021, it has five program areas, serves over 90 schools, 9 colleges, and reaches over 22,000 New York City high school and college students per year.


2006: Urban Youth Collaborative launches campaign to start Student Success Centers (SSCs)

2007: First two SSCs launch in Brooklyn with Cypress Hills LDC at the Franklin K. Lane Campus and Make the Road NY at the Bushwick Campus

2010: College Inquiry curriculum developed and piloted at two schools in Brooklyn


CARA is founded

CARA launches College Inquiry program at Fannie Lou Hamer High School in the Bronx

CARA supports opening of third SSC with New Settlement Apartments on the Taft Campus in the Bronx

CARA partners with Urban Assembly and At Home in College to create first College Bridge program in NYC


CARA joins Expanded Success Initiative, growing its College Inquiry programming

CARA featured in What Kids Can Do for its College Bridge programming

CARA co-published a white paper "Walking the Same Hallways: Youth Leadership for College Access" with Brooklyn Community Foundation


CARA partners with NYC DoE’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness to launch the first institute to help school teams strengthen their school’s college-going culture

CARA programs featured as “best practice” in Center for New York City Affairs report Creating College Ready Communities: Preparing NYC’s Precarious New Generation of College Students

CARA publishes a report "Education Funders Research Initiative: Assessing College and Career Readiness."


CARA partners with Graduate NYC and CUNY K-16 Initiatives to launch a peer-to-peer retention model: Strive for Success

CARA invited to join U.S. Department of Education’s “First in the World” Grant - Moving the Dial on Inequality Challenges: Broadening Student Access and Success and Transforming Institutions through Campus-Community Engagement in partnership with CUNY professor Michelle Fine


CARA pilots full-year (12-month) College Bridge model with 15 high schools


CARA supports NYC DoE’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness in launching College Access for All

CARA partners with FMYI to develop and launch EnrollNYC

CARA partners with ASAP to support the development of peer-to-peer component of its retention model

CARA staff doubles in size


CARA partners with CUNY LINCT and NYC DoE’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness to design College Bridge for All program and train coaches to support matriculation into college at over 50 schools

CARA publishes revised College Inquiry curriculum, College Office Resources, & Resources for Leaders

CARA partners with NYC DoE’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness to establish five new multi-school campus SSCs with Cypress Hills LDC, Good Shepherd Services and East Side House Settlement


Supported by a grant from the New York Community Trust, CARA begins research project on what takes to build a strong college access infrastructure in NYC public high schools

CARA launches train-the-trainer model to develop capacity of CBOs to run peer-to-peer college access programs

CARA’s programs featured as best practice in Center for an Urban Future’s report Degrees of Difficulty: Boosting College Success in New York City


CARA expands its work outside of NYC, training the Connecticut RISE Network to use CARA's College Inquiry model with schools in East Hartford and Meriden CT

College Allies' partnership with CUNY-based retention programs grow to include College Discovery, the Black Male Initiative, and BMCC's Learning Academy

CARA's peer-to-peer model featured in Mandy Savitz-Romer's newest book Fulfilling the Promise: Reimagining School Counseling to Advance Student Success


CARA partners with CUNY’s Career Success on Campus initiative to develop a peer-to-peer model of career advising & begins developing a peer-to-peer two-to-four year transfer program.

CARA develops a comprehensive set of "core competencies " for peer leaders as well a performance-based assessment system for all of its peer leader programs.

CARA’s Co-Directors publish an op-ed in The Hechinger Report, At Risk Youth Aren’t the Problem - but They Can be Part of the Counseling Solution: What Peer to Peer College Guidance Is Getting Right.