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The Best of Two Worlds: Lessons from a Community College-Community Organization Collaboration to Increase Student Success

Youth Development Institute, for Jobs for the Future

This brief seeks to build understanding of:

  • The needs and strengths of young people who are underrepresented in higher education and who too rarely complete a credential; and
  • The ways that youth development organizations and colleges—institutions that rarely work together and that have differing strengths, sizes, and professional cultures—can collaborate to improve student success.

The brief discusses both in the context of New York City’s College Access and Success Initiative (CAS), which focuses on improving the odds of success for young people who have graduated from failing high schools, are recent immigrants, or who have dropped out and then attained a GED. Begun in 2004, it demonstrates how colleges and community organizations can integrate education and youth development to improve student success.

CAS represents a new level of collaboration between a college and a CBO. The partners have worked hard to clarify a variety of elements, such as: what it means to have high expectations in each organization; how to create continuity of supports for individual students in a complicated and large institution; what kinds of relationship must be in place to create wraparound supports; and what staff skills must be developed to do this work.