CARA conducts research on critical issues in the fields of higher education access and success.
Our goals are to:
- Model and share best practices in program creation, expansion and evaluation
- Advocate for city, state, and federal policies that create more equitable pathways to and through college for underserved students in New York City
- Contribute to theoretical understanding of the social forces that create and perpetuate educational inequity
We draw on quantitative, qualitative, and participatory research approaches to elevate issues of educational justice in the communities where we work, and publish our findings in a range of arenas.
We leverage what we learn to inform practitioners and policymakers.
CARA uses a variety of data sources and methods to conduct rigorous evaluation of our programs’ effectiveness.
We draw on data from the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York to quantitatively measure program impact on postsecondary access and success metrics. CARA also designs and conducts surveys, interviews, and focus groups with peer leaders, students served, and school or university staff. These data sources are analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods to assess shifts in process-oriented outcomes, such as knowledge about the landscape of higher education and attitudes toward college.
Our programs serve as a policy lab, building program models and sharing best practices to inform our partners and the field.
CARA consults with policy organizations doing research in the fields of colleges access and success, such as the Research Alliance, The Center for New York City Affairs, and Center for an Urban Future. Our programs have been featured in the following reports:
CARA is also a source for news media on college access topics. To see more click here.
Chajet, L. and Bloom, J. (December 2013): Education Funders Research Initiative: Assessing College and Career Readiness.
Chajet, L. and Bahl, T. (October, 2013). Youth Leadership for College Access Summer Institute 2013: Summary of Findings.
Cowan, L. and Chajet, L. (March, 2012). Walking the Same Hallways: Youth Leadership in College Access in NYC: A White Paper. Brooklyn Community Foundation.
Chajet, L. and Stoneman-Bell, S. (2009). College for All? Youth Lead the Way. Rethinking Schools.
Chajet, L. (2006). Transitioning from Small Schools to College: Putting Students in the Driver’s Seat. Horace. Volume 22, Number 1. Winter, 14.
We conduct research in the schools and communities where we work.
In our whole-school work, we find that schools encounter challenges in (1) building a strong college-going infrastructure, and (2) increasing rates of college matriculation for low-income, students of color, and first-generation college students.
With support from the New York Community Trust, researchers from CARA are using qualitative case study methods to document the challenges to college access that students encounter; interviewing school leaders, school staff, and peer leaders in order to understand the shifts that build a strong college-going culture; and capturing the activities and structural changes schools undertake to build students’ understanding of the higher education landscape. Research is taking place across a range of school types implementing both CARA’s College Inquiry and College Bridge programs, with the goal of generating generalizable best practices in college access to inform policymakers and practitioners.
In collaboration with CARA researchers, a group of current college students who work as coaches in the College Bridge program formed a research collective in fall 2017 to study contemporary issues affecting higher education equity. The group is pursuing a research and action project about the college opportunities of undocumented students, Dreamers, and others affected by contemporary policies and cultural climate regarding immigration in the United States.
Supported by a First in the World grant from the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), a group of colleges are investigating how college campus-community engagement transforms students’ college experience and the culture higher education institutions.
CARA is tracking how serving as a peer leader in the College Bridge or College Allies programs impact peer leaders’ college success outcomes at the City University of New York (CUNY). Contrasted against propensity-matched comparison groups of students, CARA has found significantly higher one-year persistence rates for peer leaders, particularly those who are low-income, Black, and/or Latino/a.
Hachey, V.K. & McCallen, L.S. (2018). Perceptions of campus climate and sense of belonging among non-immigrant, first-generation, and second-generation students at public research universities. In K. Soria (Ed.), Evaluating Campus Climate at U.S. Research Universities: Opportunities for Diversity and Inclusion. New York, New York: Springer.
Bloom, J. (2012). Willie Rivera Thoughts: Critical Small Schools and the Transition to Higher Education. In M. Hantzopolous and A. Tyner (Eds.) Critical Small Schools: Beyond Privatization in New York City Urban Educational Reform. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Chajet, L. (Spring, 2011). We Are All In It Together: The Role of Youth Leadership in College Access. Voices in Urban Education. Providence, RI: Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.
Bloom, J. (2008). The Pedagogy of College Access Programs: A Critical Analysis ASHE/Lumina Critical Essay Series.
Bloom, J. (2007). “(Mis)Reading Social Class in the Journey Towards College: Youth Development in Urban America.” Teachers College Record 109(2), 343-368.
Chajet, L. (2007). The Power and Limits of Small School Reform: Institutional Agency and Democratic Leadership in Public Education. In D. Carlson and C. Gause (Eds.), Keeping the Promise: Essays on Leadership, Democracy, and Education. New York: Peter Lang.
Bloom, J. (2005). Hollowing the Promise of Higher Education: Inside the Political Economy of Access to College. In L. Weis and M. Fine (Eds.), Beyond Silenced Voices: Race, Class and Gender in United States Schools. Albany: State University of New York Press.
We coach other organizations to develop peer-to-peer models, and collaborate with the NYC Department of Education and City University of New York to develop equitable system-wide approaches to college access and success.
We work directly with the NYC Department of Education and City University of New York to support their school development and peer leadership initiatives through coaching staff, sharing training materials, and co-designing program models. We also consult with community-based organizations to develop and implement peer-to-peer college access and success programs. Our consulting model includes supporting organizations through an apprenticeship model as they learn to do this work.
Expanding College Inquiry
Expanding College Bridge
Expanding Right to College
Expanding College Allies
CARA has worked to train the staff of the NYC DoE’s College Access for All Initiative, using our professional development and college office tools to influence and support schools across New York City through this ambitious citywide initiative.
CARA has designed and facilitated coach training for NYC DOE’s College Access for All College Bridge for All initiative since its inception, and continues to consult with the DoE to expand this peer leader model across the city.
The DoE has embraced CARA’s Right to College Student Success Center model, using NYC DoE’s College Access for All funding to open five new SSCs around New York City. CARA has trained the Youth Leaders and CBO staff working in these centers and consulted with the DoE about school/CBO partnership.
Beginning in 2014, with support from the Pinkerton Foundation, CARA partnered with CUNY’s K-16 to develop a peer leadership model for college persistence which has, in turn, influenced peer-to-peer retention programming across CUNY.
Since 2016, CARA has partnered with CUNY’s ASAP programs to design a peer leadership component of ASAP’s retention programs. CARA has consulted with central staff and trained ASAP’s peer leaders and campus staff, and will partner with additional CUNY and community-based retention programs in 2018-2019 to do the same.