College Access: Research & Action (CARA)

We have encouraged college access programs to share best practices and to expand their reach by training other organizations in what they do and how. CARA has developed and refined college access and persistence programming in more than 100 high schools, nine CUNY community colleges and 14 community-based organizations. While CARA continues to operate its direct service programming, including College Inquiry (whole school model), College Bridge (near-peer model to reduce summer melt and support college matriculation), Right to College (peer leadership program for college access) and College Allies (peer leadership for college persistence), our support allowed the organization to develop more strategic partnerships—ones that would be sustainable beyond CARA’s active involvement. The three-tiered approach for this includes extensive consultation with program leadership to determine the best ways to integrate CARA models/resources into existing structures and practices and ensure dedication of needed resources; distribution of CARA’s high-quality resources and modeling of their use; and professional development for program staff to implement programming with fidelity and to work through implementation challenges. Schools that have partnered with CARA, with our support, and implemented both whole-school and peer programs for at least four years have seen an average 9% increase in college matriculation rates, even through the pandemic, which represents an average rate 11.3% higher than comparison schools. Further, the program has a positive impact on Peer Leaders. CARA-trained Peer Leaders persist at higher rates through CUNY than other students: the most recent data shows that CARA Peer Leaders persist through CUNY at a rate 11% higher than a CUNY comparison pool.

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