College Access: Research & Action

CARA’s Mission

College Access: Research & Action's (CARA) mission is to ensure that first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color have the knowledge and support necessary to enroll in and persist through college.

CARA’s work confronts the gap in post-secondary guidance faced by first-generation college students in NYC. While New York City public high school students need opportunities to learn about college and career pathways, most of the city’s public high schools and institutions of higher education are not structured to provide this assistance.

CARA’s programs, research, and policy work address these inequities.

CARA’s Programs

College Allies Training
College Allies Training: Borough of Manhattan Community College, 2018

College Inquiry Whole School Model for College Access
Works intensively with schools for 3-4 years, helping them to build their college-going infrastructure and culture. It ensures that post secondary exploration is embedded in students’ regularly scheduled day,throughout their high school years, through:

  • Targeted staff coaching and PD on the post-secondary landscape and stumbling blocks for first-generation college students
  • Support for college office best practices
  • Sequenced 9th-12th grade field-tested curriculum for post-secondary exploration

Peer Leadership Model for College Access & Persistence
Empowers students as leaders within their schools. CARA provides them with 70-80 hours of training, data tools and a community of peers, and ensures that they receive financial compensation, strong adult supervision, and a clearly defined role and time within the school day to work.

Right to College
High school students supporting their peers.

College Bridge
College students working in their alumni high schools to support seniors through the year and over the summer.

College Allies
Experienced college students supporting their peers.

CARA’s Research & Policy Work

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 operation, expansion and evaluation
  • Contribute to dialog on city, state and federal policies that create more equitable pathways to and through college for underserved students in New York City and beyond
  • Contribute to theoretical understanding of the social forces that create and perpetuate educational inequity

We do this through:

  • Conducting research in the schools and communities where we work
  • Building tools to support best practices in access and success
  • Coaching other organizations to develop peer-to-peer models
  • Collaborating with the NYC Department of Education and CUNY to develop equitable system-wide approaches
  • Leveraging what we learn to inform practitioners, policy makers, and the research field

Visit the CARA website

To contact us, call us at 212-817-1891 or email us at:

CARA’s peer-to-peer model was featured in Julie Dressner’s documentary Personal Statement. The film has won awards for Best Documentary Feature, has been shown at 12 film festivals across 8 states, was shown at the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) and The National College Access Network (NCAN) conferences, and was featured on PBS and The World Channel. Read more about the film.