Innovative Approach to College and Career Exploration at Inwood Academy

By: Ana Gonzalez, Marketing Manager
April 11, 2024

Category: College Bound | high school | trailblazers

Inwood Academy for Leadership and CARA Forge a Transformative Partnership

We are thrilled to share the exciting news of a groundbreaking partnership between Inwood Academy for Leadership High School and CARA, uniting forces to enhance college access for first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color. This collaboration comes at a crucial time when educational institutions are recognizing the need for a comprehensive approach to post-secondary exploration, application, and enrollment.

At the heart of this collaboration is CARA’s College Inquiry program, a meticulously crafted curriculum designed to revolutionize the postsecondary access journey for high school students. The curriculum structure and rationale are deeply rooted in current research addressing issues of access to higher education for first-generation-to-college students. Drawing from years of hands-on experience within New York City high schools, CARA has developed a curriculum that addresses a critical gap in college access and success. Inwood Academy for Leadership is among six charter schools in New York City that have partnered with CARA.

“In response to the shifting dynamics of higher education and a need for a consistent 9-12 curriculum, we took a thorough look at the College and Career readiness work that was being done” says Simone Smith, Director of College and Career Success Program. “Our goal was to empower students with the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources to thrive in an ever-evolving collegiate environment. We chose to adapt the CARA curriculum to address the unique needs of our students.”

The CARA curriculum is integrated into the Leadership class from 9th to 12th grade. The curriculum is shaped by two primary sources: ongoing research into the challenges faced by first-generation college students and extensive practical experience working within high schools. The goal is to bridge the gap between raising academic standards and adequately preparing students for the intricate college planning process.

Research indicates that many academically prepared students nationwide are navigating “constrained” college searches, limiting their exploration to a narrow range of colleges that may not align with their abilities and interests. Additionally, students often face challenges in completing the necessary paperwork for admission and financial aid after the initial application phase. Recognizing this, CARA’s College Inquiry program seeks to address these gaps and equip high schools with the tools to support students comprehensively. CARA also works closely with teachers, counselors and families in each school community to ensure that every community member is able to support students successfully.

Inwood Academy for Leadership, with its focus on college preparedness, character development, and community leadership, is already integrating CARA’s College Inquiry program seamlessly into its existing framework. The partnership aims to embed college and career exploration into all grades in IAL’s Leadership classes, ensuring that students are not only academically prepared but also well-versed in the intricacies of the college planning process.

In addition to providing curriculum, CARA also partners with our Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Department to offer workshops to families in understanding the college application process, how to navigate financial aid packages, and how to support their children on their postsecondary journey. This spring CARA, FACE and our College Counseling Office are producing four workshops for IAL families.

As we embark on this collaborative journey, the shared vision of Inwood Academy for Leadership and CARA is clear: to empower students with the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to navigate the path to higher education successfully. By integrating CARA’s research-driven curriculum into the fabric of Inwood Academy’s educational experience, we aspire to guide students towards colleges that align with their abilities and interests, ultimately leading to increased enrollment in high-quality institutions.

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