MacKenzie Scott Gifts CARA at the CUNY Graduate Center $2 Million

July 19, 2022

Gift helps CARA confront gaps in post-secondary guidance for high school students.

CARA Announcement - High Schools Kids
Peer Leaders, trained by CARA, support high school seniors through the college search, application, and matriculation process. (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

The CUNY Graduate Center today announced that College Access: Research and Action (CARA) has received a $2 million gift from MacKenzie Scott. The generous gift will have a transformative effect on CARA and its mission 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 and other post-secondary opportunities.

CARA’s work confronts the gap in post-secondary guidance faced by tens of thousands of students in and beyond New York City. While public school students need opportunities to learn about college and career pathways, most city public high schools and institutions of higher education are not structured to provide this assistance. CARA addresses these inequities through its whole-school and peer leadership models — designed in partnership with schools, community-based organizations, and students — and its unique approach to policy research. CARA is committed to building institutional capacity, empowering young people to be influential leaders in their schools and communities, and ensuring that all students are supported through all pathways after high school.

Deeply rooted in New York City public high schools and CUNY, CARA was co-founded in 2011 by two former high school teachers who received doctorates in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. CARA now serves more than 20,000 high school students and over 6,000 college students at nearly 80 schools and community-based organizations each year. The award-winning documentary film Personal Statement by Julie Dressner, which aired on PBS in 2018, chronicled CARA’s impact on students at several Brooklyn high schools. 

CARA - High School Kids Leaders
Two high school students trained by CARA to support their peers in planning for college and post-secondary opportunities. (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

“The City University of New York is committed to transforming lives through knowledge and education,” said Robin L. Garrell, president of the Graduate Center. “CARA grew out of academic work that started at the Graduate Center. It is very gratifying to have two of our alumni provide leadership that encourages New York City students to pursue higher education, grounding that effort in continued research and innovation on our campus. Thank you, MacKenzie Scott, for your investment in CARA and the remarkable young people that it reaches. Your generosity will help these students realize their college dreams and career ambitions.”

“We are deeply grateful to MacKenzie Scott for this generous gift that is a tribute to and recognition of CARA’s dedicated staff, the scores of educators we partner with, and the hundreds of young people we have trained as peer leaders, who together have changed the outcomes for tens of thousands of students,” said Janice Bloom and Lori Chajet, CARA co-directors, in a joint statement. “This funding creates opportunities to further grow our work both within and outside of New York City and to work towards making support for post-secondary planning an entitlement for all rather than a privilege for some.”

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