The College Access for All: Middle School Initiative

In fall 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina announced an ambitious set of goals for New York City schools: By 2026, 80% of our students will graduate high school on time, and two-thirds of our students will be college ready.

Through the Mayor’s Equity and Excellence reforms, New York City will address our students’ academic, social, and emotional needs from the first book they successfully read by themselves until their high school diploma and college acceptance letter are in hand.
As part of this plan, College Access for All: Middle School (CA4All: MS)—a holistic early college awareness program that includes college trips, student workshops, family engagement, and professional development opportunities for staff—ensures that every middle school student will be exposed to a college-going culture and will have the opportunity to visit a college campus at least once in grades 6–8. College Access for All: Middle School will promote high school, college, and life success.

In the first full year, 20,000 7th graders across 10 community school districts and district 75 participated in activities including: early college awareness training for over 1,200 school and college access vendor staff; a three-day long professional development for Parent Coordinators; visits to 10 CUNY college campuses; and a College Awareness Day on January 11th, as proclaimed by the New York City Council. These events engaged students, parents and guardians, and other community members about the importance of being college-ready and the increased possibilities when school communities are immersed in the process.

College Access for All: Middle School supports 171 different schools and over 20,000 students. Each student will visit a college campus free of charge this year.
By 2026, 80 percent of our students will graduate high school on time, and two-thirds of our students will be college ready.

What is the goal?

Every student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus at least once in middle school, exposing them to college and starting conversations about college earlier in students’ academic careers. The campus visit will be embedded in a broader set of student and parent workshops focused on planning for high school and college. Our goal is for every student and their family to feel that college is in their future. It’s not “if,” but WHEN I go college!

Why does it matter?

Middle school sets the foundation for success in high school, college, and beyond. By creating a college-going culture in school and at home, it increases the liklihood that children—especially students who will be the first in their family to go to college—will internalize the message that college is their future. College-oriented conversations in middle school give students an opportunity to make better decisions in high school and about their future.

What is the need?

Today, fewer than half of our high school students graduate ready for college. Too many students decide early in their academic career that “college is not for them.” This initiative will make college feel real and accessible to over 80,000 students each year. Additionally, our postsecondary enrollment rate is only about 53%, showing we have a long way to go to ensure college readiness for all graduates.

Program Model

All schools in the chosen 10 districts are invited to participate:

  • Funding will go directly to schools to partner with a vendor to provide early college awareness services (list of services are below).
  • Professional development will be provided to school and vendor staff.
  • An early college awareness curriculum, tools, and resources developed by NYCDOE will be accessible to all schools.
District Neighborhood
05 Harlem
06 Washington Heights, Inwood
08 Hunts Point, Throgs Neck, Soundview
11 Pelham, Eastchester, Woodlawn
14 Greenpoint, Williamsburg
18 Canarsie
19 East New York
27 Ozone Park, Rockaways
29 Southeastern, Queens
31 Staten Island

Vendors will work with participating schools to deliver the following services during the school year:

  • College trip
    • Vendor plans and oversees a college trip for all 7th grade students (this may require multiple trips depending on the number of 7th grade students).
    • Cost includes busing, food, and staff.
  • Ten (10) early college awareness workshops
    • Schools can lead workshops from the DOE curriculum as well as from other curricula and around best practices.
    • Workshops should include information connecting the high school application process to college preparedness.
  • Two (2) family engagement events
    Schools will host innovative, engaging and interactive activities for families. Early college awareness workshops may be thoughtfully expanded to include families.
  • One (1) special event
    • Vendor plans and facilitates one schoolwide early college event. Some options include a High Sschool/College Fair or College Day.
  • Two (2) professional development workshops
    • Vendors will provide training to school staff around creating a college-going culture within their school community.

Coming up…
School Year 2017–2018: All middle schools in 20 CSDs receive funding for program.

School Year 2018–2019: All middle schools citywide receive funding for program.