The Opportunity Network (OppNet) is committed to finding field-wide solutions to fill a national gap in college success and career readiness by expanding the reach of its Career Fluency® program from serving 2,000 low-income, first-generation, college bound students in New York City to 100,000 students nationwide.
Career Fluency® is a proprietary and proven program that reinforces the education-to-career connection to drive results in increased student engagement, strong retention, high college graduation rates, and immediate degree-matching jobs attainment.
This commitment is comprised of three expansion strategies:
1) Scale the Career Fluency® Consultancy to schools and community-based organizations nation-wide to amplify existing college access investments. The Consultancy will target institutions with strong college access offerings and provide them with the curriculum, training, technical assistance, and tools to build out their college success and career readiness programming, which will result in exponential college persistence and career attainment gains.
2) Develop and launch a digital Career Fluency® Portal for educators and students to access OppNets best-in-class Career Fluency® curriculum from anywhere with access to a computer and internet. The Portal will contribute to the process of developing skills and knowledge gains that drive college persistence and career and readiness.
3) Expand OppNets six-year Fellows program, which boasts a 100% college graduation rate and an 85% rate of career-track job attainment or graduate school admission within six months of college graduation. The Fellows program will grow significantly in NYC and will replicate in a new geographic location in the next three years.
These three strategies will allow OppNet to scale its data-driven impact across the nation. The three coordinated strategies accelerate college and career impact by connecting entities across sectors and through direct service, field-wide capacity building, and virtual programming.
OppNet is committing to three coordinated expansion strategies to bring its Career Fluency® program to 100,000 new students over the next three years.
OppNet Career Fluency® Consultancy: Through the Consultancy, OppNet will extend its expertise, tools, and curriculum to up to 90 institutions over three years in the following timeline: Year 1 Q4, 15 institutions, training 5 adults per institution, assuming that each adult will provide Career Fluency curriculum to 75 students, resulting in 5,625 students served that year; Year 2 Q4, 30 institutions, 150 adults trained, resulting in 11,250 students served; and Year 3 Q4, 45 institutions, 225 adults trained, resulting in 16,875 students served. In three years, approximately 33,750 low-income college bound students will receive college and career programming that supplements their college access supports.
OppNet Career Fluency® Portal: The Portal will be a direct source of Career Fluency curricular content, both for adults seeking training to deliver the content to their students, as well as first-generation college bound students. The Portal aims to register 15,000 users over three years in the following timeline: Year 1 Q4, 300 adult users that will serve 12,000 students and 3,500 direct student users; Year 2 Q4: 400 adult users that will serve 16,000 students and 4,200 direct student users; and Year 3 Q4: 600 adult users that will serve 24,000 students and 6,000 direct student users.
OppNet Fellows Expansion: OppNet commits to serving nearly 1,200 Fellows over three years, both in NYC and in one new replication site. The new Fellows recruitment breakdown will be as follows: Year 1 Q2, 160; Year 2 Q2, 200; Year 3 Q2, 280. These students will participate in OppNets signature six-year program, participating in five summers of paid internships and intensive college and career readiness programming.
It is a well-perpetuated myth that if low-income students simply get to and through college, they will achieve career success; implying that college degrees are inextricably linked to career awareness, preparing all students with the knowledge and skills needed for successful careers. However, evidence shows that strong education-to-career connections are needed to drive higher college persistence rates (Hooley, Marriot and Sampson 2011). With only one in 10 young people from low-income families graduating college in six years (Pell Institute 2008), an individuals college education and career path can no longer operate in isolation of one another.
College matriculation does not produce the career skills, workplace etiquette, internships, or professional networks that their more privileged peers will leverage upon graduation. This gap in access to resources and connections that can lead to a successful career leaves over one million students destined for career undermatching. Career undermatching, which is similar to college undermatching, fails students with potential because of a lack of exposure and guidance, so they find themselves with jobs that match neither their abilities nor their ambitions and do not provide opportunities for upward mobility.
Strategies to bring college success to a national scale must integrate career readiness for all students. If we fail to do so, the United States will incur a large opportunity cost, paid for by the more than one million graduates with great career potential, but lacking the opportunity to meet the employer demand for talent so critical to economic growth.
To this end, The Opportunity Network is participating in CGIs College and Career Readiness working group to lead a call to action to bring Career Fluency® into the national conversation on educational access and equity. Career Fluency® is a proprietary and proven program that reinforces the education-to-career connection to drive results in increased student engagement, strong retention, high college graduation rates and immediate degree-matching jobs attainment.