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

2011 + 2012

CARA is founded

College Inquiry program launched

Right to College program adds new SSC

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

2013 + 2014

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 launches peer-to-peer persistence programming, working in partnership with CUNY K-16 to develop Strive for Success

CARA, in partnership with CUNY professor Michelle Fine, joins 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

2015 + 2016

CARA’s College Bridge program shifts to year-long model

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

CARA partners with CUNY ASAP to develop a peer-to-peer component to its nationally-recognized retention model

2017 + 2018

CARA partners with NYC DoE and CUNY to design and launch College Bridge for All, expanding summer bridge programming throughout NYC

CARA partners with NYC DoE to open five new Student Success Centers across NYC, further expanding its Right to College program

CARA programs featured as “best practice” in Center for an Urban Future’s report Degrees of Difficulty: Boosting College Success in NYC

2019 + 2020

CARA expands its work outside of NYC, working with Connecticut Rise to implement College Inquiry in CT schools

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

CARA develops a comprehensive set of core competencies and professional capacities for peer leaders, as well a performance-based assessment system for all of its peer leader programs

2021 + 2022

CARA releases its first two comprehensive policy reports: Organizing for Access: Building High School Capacity to Support Students’ Postsecondary Pathways, based on three years of research at 7 NYC public high schools working to restructure college access work, and Peer-Led College Access Programming: A Profile of Student Success Centers in NYC documenting the creation and evolution of Student Success Centers in NYC

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CARA partners with CUNY’s Office of Student Affairs to scale its peer-to-peer persistence model at three CUNY campuses and to develop a strategic plan to create a sustainable system-wide peer-to-peer student support system

CARA receives a $2 million grant from MacKenzie Scott


CARA further expands its work outside of NYC in three program areas: working with Mentor Newark and NCLC to bring College Bridge to Newark; working with Foundation for Tacoma Students to implement College Allies in Tacoma-area colleges; working with Hawaii P-20 to pilot College Inquiry at Honoka`a High

CARA releases a new policy report based on its work at schools serving new immigrant students: Obstacles & Opportunities: Supporting College & Career Access for Adolescent Immigrant Students