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Education and Academic Support / College Readiness and Retention

The New York Opportunity Network (OppNet)

The Opportunity Network (OppNet) has helped high-performing students complete college and launch careers by providing career preparation and networking opportunities within a college access and success framework.

In 2016, the foundation provided capacity-building support to OppNet’s college-access program, which offers high-achieving, underserved students a clear path to career opportunities, professional networks, and colleges. Specifically, the foundation supported the development of OppNet’s Career Fluency Portal, an engaging, new interactive web-based platform, which will enable OppNet to maximize its partnership model with community-based organizations and schools by delivering content, resources, and training in a more accessible and efficient way while maintaining fidelity to its model. The portal will function as a teaching aid in the classroom and as a tool for educators and youth development professionals, providing college and career readiness content to underserved young people.

Emphasizing personal and professional networks and social capital, OppNet’s “Career Fluency” curriculum is defined by extensive and intensive intervention over six years with a holistic focus on college and careers. From sophomore summer through senior year of high school, OppNet Fellows participate in weekly after-school sessions focused on career exploration, networking, and professional etiquette. They receive intensive college advising on how to supplement in-school guidance and hold paid summer internships. Once in college, Fellows receive more than 300 mentoring and counseling sessions. Last year, 100 percent graduated from high school on time and 97 percent matriculated at selective four-year colleges. 100 percent of Fellows have graduated or are on track to graduate from college within six years. Among those who graduated, 90 percent secured full-time employment within six months of completing college.

To further expand its reach, OppNet launched OppNet Prep to serve a younger population starting at the end of eighth grade through ninth grade. These students receive a curriculum adapted from Career Fluency in a year-long classroom series that culminates in a college access program fair. At last year’s fair, 89 percent of students applied to high school enrichment and college prep programs, with most receiving acceptances.