CARA’s programs provide a range of solutions for college access and success. Over the past 20+ years, we have developed whole school and peer-to-peer capacity building programs that achieve strong results.”

Whole School Model

College Inquiry, CARA’s whole school model, works intensively with schools for 3-4 years helping them to build their college-going infrastructure and culture. By the end of our partnership, schools have built the capacity to continue this work on their own.

College Inquiry embeds post-secondary exploration in students’ regularly scheduled day throughout their high school years. It provides:

  1. Targeted staff coaching and professional development on the post-secondary landscape and stumbling blocks for first-generation college students
  2. Support for college office best practices
  3. Sequenced 9th-12th grade field-tested curriculum for post-secondary exploration

Whole School Theory of Change

Learn More About College Inquiry

Peer-to-Peer Model

Peer Leadership Model for College Access & Persistence

CARA’s peer-led college access and persistence programs help first-generation college students in New York City define and realize their post-secondary aspirations with support from their peers, from application through persistence.

Peer Leaders are carefully selected and rigorously trained high school and college students who work within their own schools and communities. They work along various points in the postsecondary access and persistence process, providing one-on-one counseling and group support to help their peers matriculate into and persist through higher education.

CARA Ensures Peer Leaders Have:

  • 70-80 hours of training
  • A clearly defined role within their schools
  • Financial compensation for their work
  • Time in the daily schedule that they can work consistently with students
  • Strong adult supervision
  • Data tools to allow them to track and evaluate their work
  • A community of peers across NYC with whom to share best practices and resources

What Do Peer Leaders Do?


Support 9th-12th grade high school students to make thoughtful and informed decisions about college, addressing questions like: What colleges would be a good fit for me? Can I afford to go to college? What do colleges look for in an applicant? How do I complete all the steps of the application process?


Work with seniors throughout the year in order to effectively support them over the summer as they cross the bridge from high school to college and wonder: What do I do if I still haven’t received a financial aid package from the college I want to attend? What is a reasonable amount to take out in loans? What is a Master Promissory Note?


Support college students as they transition into and persist through college, confronting questions like: What can I do to feel a part of a community on my campus? How do I navigate these new systems I am expected to use? Who can help me when I am struggling with a class? What do I do if my financial status has changed when it is time to refile for FAFSA?

Peer-to-Peer Programs