Graduate NYC (GNYC) began in 2010 as an outgrowth of the college readiness work that the NYC Department of Education, the City University of New York, and City Hall had been doing together for many years. Initially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of their Communities Learning in Partnership (CLIP) portfolio, GNYC works closely with its partners on efforts intending to drive greater rates of college readiness and college degree completion. Focused on the five boroughs and students who attend NYCDOE schools and CUNY colleges, GNYC serves to bring together institutional and organizational players to link and align efforts, advocate for policy and practice change, increase transparency, and concentrate attention on key college readiness, access and success indicators, including and especially through institutional and city leadership transitions. GNYC is part of a broader movement in cities and communities across the country to create a sustained focus on college completion by working in close partnership with the major public education institutions, and the many nonprofit and community-based organizations, working locally on issues of college access and success. Our initial set of goals and scope of work were determined by citywide teams comprised of leaders and experts in K-12, higher education, youth, families, and community-based college access and success work. Supporting efforts to meet the 2020 Goals became the focus of our work. Recommendations from the citywide teams resulted in the categorization of GNYC’s work into four priority areas:
- Identifying and disseminating best practices in college readiness and success
- Data sharing, research and policy
- College planning, advisement and success
- Academic readiness and curriculum alignment
- In December 2008, CUNY Chancellor Goldstein and then DOE Chancellor Klein established a joint College Readiness and Success working group made up of senior staff to:
- Build off a data sharing agreement in order to understand factors related to college readiness and success.
- Increase the number of DOE graduates prepared for college.
- Increase the number of students who stay in college and complete a degree at CUNY.
- Create ways to track and reward progress.
- This partnership was recognized in November 2009, when NYC received a Gates Foundation Communities Learning in Partnership (CLIP) Planning Grant to support the work. This collaboration has led to:
- Increased communication across DOE and CUNY leadership.
- A CLIP Steering Committee to inform the planning phase that included other City agencies and a range of external partners.
- Development of working committees to draw on the knowledge of stakeholders, including a range of youth-serving and non-profit organizations .
- Development of recommendations to focus our work on academic alignment; college awareness and planning; research and data sharing; accountability and sustainability; needs of partners.
- In August 2010, Gates awarded NYC $3 million over a three-year period for implementation. The initiative was named Graduate NYC, and staff was hired in December, 2010.