For every 100 low-income students, fewer than eight will graduate college and secure jobs. This is a crisis, and it is leading to unrealized potential for an entire generation of talented, motivated young people. Our work to address this crisis is rooted in these core beliefs about the career readiness gap:
- Strong education-to-career connection leads to better student engagement, lower drop-out rates and higher college persistence rates. College and career readiness can no longer operate in separate, parallel dimensions.
- Career development cannot be an implied goal of—or tacked onto—college access and success programs. Career development must be an explicit goal and interventions must be early, consistent and sustained.
- Workplace learning opportunities during high school and college lead to stronger academic performance and full-time jobs upon college graduation.
- Career “undermatching” is as real as college “undermatching.” The same solutions apply to help students avoid tracking into jobs that don’t maximize potential: career awareness, exposure, exploration, mentors and networks, parental involvement, etc.
Improved college matching and career development for low-income students leads to:
Increased college application
Increased college matriculation
Increased first year college persistence
Increased college graduation
Increased career matching
Increased career success
The Opportunity Network (OppNet) was founded in 2003 by Brian Weinstein and Jessica Pliska, who met as undergraduates at Yale University and wanted to find a way to leverage their networks for social good beyond their own careers. After forming OppNet on the side of their corporate day jobs, Jessica eventually took the plunge and left her job to build OppNet full-time out of her living room, with Brian as the Chairman of the Board. The organization grew by Brian and Jessica tapping into their own networks in order to establish a strong community of New York professionals to serve OppNet as classroom career speakers, internship hosts, networking leaders, college application tutors, donors, partners, advisors and friends.
The Opportunity Network’s mission is rooted in the belief that all students can increase their potential to graduate from college ready for careers.