The Opportunity Network

The Opportunity Network (OppNet) is one of the most effective programs at teaching career-readiness skills to high-achieving youth through its direct-to-student Fellows program and Career Fluency Partnerships program–strategic partnerships with schools and other community-based organizations that range in scope of work, length of engagement, and deliverables, all based on partners’ needs and goals along the college and career spectrum.

OppNet uses a specialized Career Fluency® curriculum that emphasizes personal and professional networks and social capital. From sophomore summer through senior year of high school, OppNet Fellows participate in weekly after-school sessions of career exploration, networking training, and professional etiquette. An intensive college advising program (focused on admission to best-fit, four-year colleges) supplements the students’ college guidance in school. During college, students are required to meet academic standards as well as attend workshops and networking events over school breaks. They also hold paid internships over five summers through OppNet’s relationships with 200 companies, nonprofits, and government entities and receive over 300 mentoring and counseling sessions while in college, including check-in calls and on-campus visits from OppNet staff. As a result of this rigorous program, 93% of Fellows graduate from college within six years.

The Career Fluency Partnerships model has enabled OppNet to build capacity in disseminating its effective college- and career-readiness curriculum to a wider audience while still reflecting OppNet’s commitment to data collection and analysis. OppNet has created template guides to support Partners in integrating Career Fluency® content into their advising models; in 2022 OppNet worked with 57 organizations, including 2 (John Jay College and Collegiate Academies) that opted in to integrate OppNet’s new advising guides.

With our support, OppNet also formed a strategic partnership with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), a rigorous year-round education and youth development program that centers on intensive academic preparation in critical reading, critical writing, vocabulary, grammar, and math in order to bridge the academic achievement gap. The SEO and OppNet Career Fluency partnership strengthens and enhances SEO’s programming and provides tailored career-advising support for the College Scholars in SEO’s program through a sustainable train-the-trainer approach to collaboration.

Additionally, we supported a strategic partnership between OppNet and a high-performing, public charter high school, MESA Charter High School to provide students with support during high school to make more informed postsecondary decisions, to better understand the value of a college degree and to connect their educational pathways with potential career earnings.

There are no two ways about it: Heckscher’s support has been a driving factor in our growth at pivotal junctures over the course of our 15 years. Their established and respected standing in the philanthropic and youth development fields has deepened the pride and purpose with which we approach our work.
Jessica Pliska
Founder, The Opportunity Network