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

March 1, 2012

New York City's College Access and Success Initiative (CAS) 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 brings together: (1) The New York City College of Technology--City Tech--is a college within the City University of New York system; (2) The Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation is a community-based organization that provides housing development and human services in East New York; and (3) The Youth Development Institute, an intermediary, develops, supports, and assesses practice and policy innovations in New York City and nationally. A predecessor to this report, "Building a Better Bridge," by Michael Chavez Reilly (2008), describes the experiences of students and staff in the early stages of CAS. This report describes the initiative's key components as they have evolved over five years. It explores the practices, challenges, and policy implications of this innovative programming. The two reports seek to build understanding of: (1) The needs and strengths of young people who are underrepresented in higher education and who too rarely complete a credential; and (2) 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 results are encouraging. According to data from the college, CAS students have graduated from City Tech at more than twice the rate of their peers from the same community in East New York, and 75 percent of the graduates have gone on to Bachelor's programs.