classroom-beigeTHE NEED: In New York City, for every 100 students that enroll in 9th grade, only 21 earn a college degree. Even so, college readiness, college enrollment, and degree attainment rates for black and Hispanic youth are lower than the overall city average and substantially lower than their white peers. City-wide, 57% of white adults have a bachelor’s degree compared to 22% of their black and 16% of their Hispanic counterparts. Additionally, postsecondary outcomes for low-income youth lag way behind their upper income peers. Nationally, the bachelor’s degree attainment rate for higher income young people is seven times that of low income young people. Finally, over one third of young adults in the city are neither working nor in school or are working in low-wage jobs with limited advancement opportunities. We know that a 21st century economy requires some education after high school. While progress has been made in recent years on many of these indicators in the city, significant gaps remain that demand collective action.

THE OPPORTUNITY: New York City has a robust community of organizations, advocates and educators committed to closing college and career achievement, opportunity, and attainment gaps. However, unlike cities such as Chicago or Los Angeles, New York does not have a comprehensive city-wide vision or strategy for concretely improving outcomes for young people in these areas. President Obama’s North Star Goal, Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative, Mayor de Blasio’s Equity & Excellence Initiative, Graduate NYC’s goal to increase college readiness and college graduation rates in NYC, and recent calls to action by national organizations and foundations present us with a unique moment of opportunity to dramatically change the trajectory of our young people and our city through collective action.

THE MISSION: To close NYC’s postsecondary attainment gaps by aligning college and career efforts around a shared vision with clear goals.

THE RESULT: A significant increase in the number of young adults completing higher education and entering living wage jobs in NYC.

THE PROCESS: Goddard Riverside Options Center, Young Invincibles and Graduate NYC have partnered to engage all stakeholders in the creation of the needed unified citywide vision through the following inclusive process:

  1. An Advisory Task Force providing strategic leadership on the design and content of #DegreesNYC.
  2. Borough Meetings and other meetings of key stakeholders opening dialogue on critical issues, disparities, and potential solutions in communities across the city.
  3. A Community Hearing collecting formal testimony from a broad cross-section of stakeholders on college and career access and success in NYC including students, parents, and professionals.
  4. A high-profile Summit bringing together all of these concerns and ideas to create a new collective action agenda.
  5. The Blueprint capturing the process; the problems identified throughout it; and the policy solutions necessary to move the needle.