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College Bridge Program, Providing College Transition Support Over Summer, Will Expand to Reach Every Graduating NYC Public High Schooler

Support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Petrie Foundation Will Ensure 57,000 Graduating Students are Coached by CUNY Students as They Transition to First Year of College

 Program has been Proven Effective in Combatting ‘Summer Melt,’ Even More Vital Amidst COVID-19

NEW YORK, NY – College Bridge, an innovative program that helps New York City public high schoolers overcome the “summer melt” and make a successful transition to college, will expand this year to reach every 2020 graduating senior as a direct result of a $877,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. An additional $250,000 grant from The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation will provide support for the program’s summer and fall terms.

College Bridge, launched in 2016 as a collaboration between CUNY and the New York City Department of Education, which continues to fund the program, provides support to graduating high school seniors as they transition to college. Using a near-peer approach, the College Bridge expansion will pay college students from CUNY to serve as coaches to graduating seniors. This program is helping respond to the dual crises of declining college enrollment for first-year students and youth employment that New York City may face in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expanded funds will ensure that College Bridge can reach out to every student who is graduating from a New York City public high school in 2020, estimated to be approximately 57,000 students. Studies show that even in the best of times, as many as 40 percent of low-income students accepted to college can experience a “summer melt” that prevents them from matriculating in the fall. Because of the pandemic, that percentage may be higher this coming fall.

College Bridge’s near-peer model has a proven track record of efficacy. In 2017, participating students enrolled in college at a rate 11 percent higher than the DOE average. This impact was driven by increasing college enrollment for students identified as low-income, Latinx, and/or Spanish-speaking, and the enrollment increase was highest for students enrolling into CUNY community colleges, as these students are most at risk of “melting.” Typically, about 60 percent of participating students attend CUNY schools, although the university’s student coaches work with all graduating high school students who plan to attend college, whether join the CUNY system or not.

To serve as a College Bridge coach, a CUNY student must have completed one year at the University. The paid coaches help students navigate pre-college paperwork and planning, and manage the necessary academic and social-emotional transitions. Coaches assist with follow-up on financial aid applications, the enrollment process, and orientation. In September, the coaches can introduce the students they mentor entering CUNY to supportive programs within the university, such as ASAP and CUNY Start/Math Start.

With Bloomberg Philanthropies and Petrie Foundation support, CUNY and DOE will be able to increase the number of trained, paid college coaches in 2020 from 130 to up to 250. These coaches will be able to serve up to 47,000 graduating high schoolers, which – in partnership with CBOs serving an additional 10,000 – will yield approximately 57,000 graduating high school students served in College Bridge this year. For the DOE/CUNY partnership, the increase represents a 200 percent jump over the current 15,000 students served through the program. The program provides meaningful summer employment opportunities and job experience for these CUNY students.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ contribution is a reflection of its commitment to providing advising to high school students to help improve college outcomes. Its CollegePoint program has provided virtual college advising to over 70,000 high achieving, lower-income students since it launched in 2014. This summer, CollegePoint will provide more robust advising to its class of 2020 graduating students as they transition to college and will serve even greater numbers of the class of 2021.

“High school seniors have shown great resilience through this year’s extraordinary challenges, and despite the uncertainty that still lies ahead, many of them are preparing to enter college in a few months,” said Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP, and three-term mayor of New York City. “To help them through the college transition during a difficult time, we’re expanding our support for the College Bridge program. The program will help ensure that students have the support they need to enter college this year — and succeed. We’re increasing our investment in their future because we need their talents more than ever.”

The support is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Response Initiatives which were launched in March to give public health professionals and local leaders around the world the best possible tools to save lives and help mitigate the kind of economic and social damage that could make this crisis even more debilitating for families and communities. Learn more about Bloomberg Philanthropies work to fight the pandemic here.

“Our goal for the especially challenging summer of 2020 is to help New York City’s college-bound graduates, most of whom are entering CUNY, develop the courage and skills to remain committed to college in the fall,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “They are graduating at a moment of unprecedented uncertainty and planning for their future after several months of isolation from friends, teachers and trusted advisers. Thanks to the generous support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, as well as the Petrie Foundation, each one of these students will get the help and support they’ll need.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted the education of every student in New York City,” said Cass Conrad, executive director of The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation. “The College Bridge for All program provides young people with the tools and training to help ensure they enter college ready to succeed. Through our work with CUNY and other nonprofit organizations, the Petrie Foundation has a long history of enabling New Yorkers to achieve their college and career goals, even in the most challenging times. We are delighted to be collaborating with Bloomberg Philanthropies in supporting this important initiative.”

This grant extends the Petrie Foundation’s commitment to supporting CUNY colleges and students. In the past three years, the Foundation has invested more than $11 million in CUNY to help alleviate financial hardships and food insecurity among students and to expand innovative programs that aim to increase college completion rates and career success among its graduates. In March, the Foundation provided $1 million to help launch the CUNY Chancellor’s Emergency Relief fund, which has now received support from dozens of local and national foundations. The Petrie Foundation recognizes that a strong public university system is vitally important to the City’s ability to respond and recover from the current crisis.

“This year, support for our seniors is more essential than ever, and we’re thrilled to expand College Bridge with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “This program extends our commitment to seniors through the summer, guaranteeing they have access to a coach to help guide their postsecondary plans. We know these last few months have not been how our students expected to end high school, and we’re here to help them prepare for their next steps no matter what.”

“We strive to help our most vulnerable students, some of whom are the first in their families to go to college, to navigate the transition,” said Andrea Soonachan, University dean of K-16 initiatives. “This is a group of students that CUNY has always been proud to serve, and serve well. We want to make sure, now even more than ever, that we help students make the transition to college and provide an academic home for those choosing CUNY.”

“College access and matriculation remain a priority for the DOE. Through the College Access for All initiative, several direct student supports including College Bridge and SAT in school administration have been provided to NYC public school students in order to increase postsecondary enrollment,” said Lawrence Pendergast, Deputy Chief Academic Officer for the Division of Teaching and Learning. “These supports we have instituted in the DOE for our students over the past four years are intended not only to pave the way for postsecondary matriculation but more importantly for postsecondary completion and success.”

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About the City University of New York:
The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving 500,000 students of all ages and awarding 55,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s mix of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80 percent of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce in every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” Grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in more than 570 cities and over 160 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3.3 billion. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter and TikTok.

About the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation:
The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, a private foundation founded in 2004, supports innovative programs in public education in New York City with particular emphasis on pathways to success in college and careers. Recently, the Foundation supported the launch of the Chancellor’s Emergency Relief Fund at the City University of New York, which provides immediate cash assistance to students who face health and economic challenges as result of Covid-19. The Petrie Foundation also invests in programs that aim to reduce academic and structural barriers that can impede low-income students as they pursue their educational and career goals.