New York City — and the nation at large — is at a watershed moment when it comes to supporting students’ higher education goals. On one hand, NYC students are increasingly graduating from high school: the class of 2017 had the highest four-year high school graduation rate the city has seen in over a decade. On the other hand, significant challenges are detering the city’s young adults from entering college, or causing them to leave after enrolling. In fact, less than a quarter of students entering City University of New York (CUNY) colleges earn their associate’s degree in four years, and just over half earn a bachelor’s degree in six years.
The foundation of this challenge includes a lack of resources, structural shortcomings, and, perhaps most importantly, equity and inclusion barriers. Young people—particularly young people of color, from low-income communities, of immigrant backgrounds, and other groups historically underrepresented in college — consistently receive both implicit and explicit messages that they do not belong in college or that they won’t make it there.
To address these systemic issues New York City’s young adults face, Young Invincibles and the Goddard Riverside Options Center launched #DegreesNYC, a collective action project that aims to achieve equity in postsecondary access and completion in New York City through a collective impact approach. Launched in 2015, our vision is that, by 2025, at least 60 percent of each racial, ethnic, and income group in NYC will have a quality postsecondary credential. We envision a New York City where all young people have the necessary supports and the real opportunity to earn a postsecondary credential that equips them with the skills and networks needed to succeed in and enrich our economy, our communities and our city as whole.
Through a three-year process engaging hundreds of cross-sector stakeholders in discussion and long-term work groups, #DegreesNYC has put together a Blueprint for Collective Action on Postsecondary Access and Success in NYC. This blueprint has four overarching recommendations for what we need to achieve to win:
Make postsecondary education affordable for all. This will involve:
- Increasing overall funding for postsecondary education and funding for particular populations
- Fixing broken application and disbursement systems (FAFSA & TAP completion, verification, award letters, loss of financial aid)
Build true pathways to 2-year degrees and from 2-year to 4-year degrees. This will involve:
- Reimagining remediation
- Supporting students as they transfer from 2-year to 4-year degree programs
Build support systems for young people from pre-K-through career by integrating high-impact practices throughout the system. This will involve:
- Supporting youth development practices
- Fully engaging New York City’s families
- Systematizing ongoing advisement at key junctures
- Supporting and developing peer-to-peer mentorship
- Cultivating culturally responsive educators and advisors
- Universalizing a multiple-pathways approach to postsecondary success
- Defining and implementing student-ready colleges
Identify and jointly use the right data to know that we are collectively on the right track and can continue to learn together until we get it right. This will involve:
- Fostering system-wide agreement on and use of key indicators of progress
- Creating and leveraging data systems to gauge success and provide the foundation for continuous improvement
This Blueprint explores each of these areas and lays out specific goals and recommendations for each.
Read the full Blueprint here.
Read the Executive Summary here.
If you are interested in joining #DegreesNYC or learning more, please email Melanie Kruvelis, Northeast Policy Analyst: firstname.lastname@example.org