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Education and Academic Support / College Readiness and Retention

America Needs You

The Heckscher Foundation has been a major funder of the growth of America Needs You (ANY), an organization that has achieved success in responding to the needs of first-generation college students. The ANY Fellows Program provides life planning, career development, and community leadership projects. Mentor coaches, primarily from highly engaged corporate volunteer initiatives, help participants articulate a clear path to their personal and professional goals. During the intensive two-year program, participants receive training in public speaking, personal finance, written communication, relationship management, and interviewing; attend 28 full-Saturday career workshops; complete two summer internships; and receive more than 1,000 hours of individualized support.

In 2016, ANY further refined its target population and now exclusively serves City University of New York (CUNY) students, one third of whom start out at a two-year CUNY community college, because they have been identified as having the highest need for intervention. To ensure year-over-year persistence and bachelor’s degree completion, the program supports students as they transition from two-year to four-year colleges and throughout their postsecondary education. ANY has achieved results that position it as the most effective model for college completion programs for CUNY students.

Among ANY alumni:

  • 96 percent have stayed in school and graduated
  • 90 percent have secured jobs or enrolled in graduate school
  • 92 percent of those working have secured jobs in areas of their professional interest at an average salary of $53,000.

Among ANY’s 2016 class of Fellows:

  • 91 percent are on track to complete the program
  • 96 percent have completed internships
  • 91 percent are persisting in college and

Furthermore, 100 percent of ANY Fellows in community colleges have successfully transferred to four-year institutions.

The foundation has also supported the development of a new College Connections pilot to expand the ANY model to high school seniors, creating a direct pipeline to postsecondary education. Students in College Connections receive weekly support from a “near-peer” mentor; five in-person training sessions on financial aid, college success, and career exploration; job shadowing; and industry networking sessions.