NBEF’s College Readiness & Career Development Training Team facilitated a multi-week virtual workshop series for New Brunswick High School (NBHS) AVID Program seniors held in March and April 2021. This special initiative, sponsored by New Brunswick Tomorrow (NBT), engaged 35 seniors in interactive workshops covering college readiness topics such as “Academic Transition: Learning Styles and Study Skills,” “Time Management,” and “First Year College Milestones and Off-to-College Checklist.”
This exciting project culminated with participants sharing “Final Reflections” of their takeaways from the workshops. These creative and insightful PowerPoint presentations were observed and assessed by a panel of representatives from NBEF and NBT who provided the students with feedback, pointers and encouragement. Furthermore, the Workshop Series resulted in 10 NBHS seniors receiving scholarships sponsored by NBT and administered by NBEF, ranging from $1,000.00 to $1,500.00.
The training curriculum used for the project has been derived from a partnership that NBEF has forged with The Opportunity Network (“OppNet”), a nonprofit based in New York City that works with over 50 organizations across the country with a capacity-building approach to help accelerate postsecondary and workforce readiness for youth.
The workshops were led by NBEF’s Near Peer Training Team and members of its College and Young Professional Network. This group of NBHS and New Brunswick Health Sciences Technology High School (NBHSTHS) alumni included Jessica Varela, MBA (Team Leader), Class of 2007, Assie Konneh, Class of 2009, and Alexander Lopez Perez, Class of 2013.
NBEF is a nonprofit organization with a mission to increase educational opportunities, innovative programs and scholarships for New Brunswick youth. One of NBEF’s key objectives is to provide NBHS and NBHSTHS juniors, seniors and alumni with support services and resources that helps equip them to be successful in college and prepares them for careers. This initiative is implemented through NBEF’s College & Young Professional Network (C&YPN) component.
Some of NBEF’s C&YPN framework entails a “Near-Peer Leadership Model” to build and nurture relationships with hundreds of youth we serve who are pursuing higher education. Through this model, NBEF engages and trains college upperclassmen and young professionals (who are products of NBHS, NBHSTHS and NBEF) to serve as trainers, coaches and mentors to deliver our program services. Thus, these role models come from the same marginalized circumstances as the students they train/coach/mentor; and has “been there” and “done that” in navigating the rigors of the college admission/financial aid processes, selecting courses and professors, joining campus clubs and fraternal organizations, and acquiring internships or entering the workforce. From this vantage point, they are relatable and can connect with their trainees/mentees, offering encouragement, inspiration, confidence, and guidance with the capacity and potential to deliver results.