Charting a Path to College

New initiative is designed to help Cypress Hills students get to college by providing families financial coaching and planning.

Brooklyn, New York: Cypress Hills Local Development CorporatiDSC_0884_resizeon (CHLDC) has launched a program to make college attainable for low-to-moderate income families in the neighborhood. The initiative, known as CollegePath, which is funded by the United Way of New York City (UWNYC), focuses on easing the financial barriers that can discourage students and families from pursuing postsecondary education.

As part of the program, students and their families receive a range of financial coaching that includes such things as help with preparing their taxes and repairing their credit scores, as well as assistance with filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the omnibus form that determines eligibility for many forms of financial aid.

“The goal of all of this is to get students in college,” said Elizabeth Kahn, Director of College Success Programs at CHLDC. “Families here in Cypress Hills often face tremendous financial obstacles in affording their children’s college education to such a degree that it may seem unattainable. A college education is not unattainable and CollegePath is really about sitting down with students and their families and charting that path to college in a way that accounts for the financial barriers and other factors that could get in the way.”

Kahn said that CHLDC has hired a financial counselor and a part-time financial literacy outreach and education worker to help students and families. The goal for program, she said, is to engage 350 families in the creation of college financing plans, and connect them with other financial services and supports they may need.

Some students in the Cypress Hills CollegePath program were honored on March 12 at a luncheon hosted by the United Way of New York City’s Women’s Leadership Council. The luncheon highlighted UWNYC’s educational initiatives and the need to support students from “cradle–to–career.”

“I am thrilled to recognize the accomplishments of Markal Walker, Qynasha McCrae, and all the students of our CollegePath program. United Way has set a bold vision for the work we will accomplish by the year 2020 and we know that vision cannot be realized without the collective power of all our partners, like Cypress Hills Development Corporation,” said Sheena Wright, President and CEO of United Way of New York City.

CHLDC has run programs to help young people in Cypress Hills access and succeed in college since 2000. The organization offers individual and group college counseling services, assistance with financial aid, and SAT prep classes and college trips, both through its Student Success Center located on the Franklin K. Lane High School campus, and from a storefront office on the neighborhood’s commercial strip. CHLDC also provide college persistence services, which focus on academic, financial, and social support to help students stay in college and graduate. The organization serves approximately 1,440 high school students through all of its college success programs.


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