Braven + Rutgers-Newark=”The American Dream.”

Braven, a nonprofit founded in 2013 with a mission to empower first-generation college students, particularly low-income students of color, has something to celebrate. According to its new 2020 Newark Jobs Report, in 2019, 130 Braven Fellows graduated from Rutgers-Newark University and 75% of graduates have had “strong job attainment” within six months of graduation, compared to 46% of their peers.

That’s the point of Braven: Its Fellows receive personalized support, experience in the workplace, and professional mentoring, with the goal of graduating college and heading right into the workplace.

“We are so proud of this class of graduating Fellows, who are already outpacing their peers nationally in strong job attainment,” said Vince Marigna, Executive Director of Braven Newark. “In deep partnership with Rutgers University – Newark and employer partners, Braven is equipping students with the roadmaps, relationships, confidence, and tools to maximize their potential. We are excited about growing our reach at Rutgers-Newark to help more students be on the path to attaining the American Promise.”

I wrote last year about Braven and since then I’ve had a chance to visit, meet the mentors (who are an essential piece of the model), and hear presentations from students who sound — and look– like they are ready to step into corporate boardrooms. 

How do they get there when only 25% of 1.2 million low-income first-generation college enrollees each year attain a strong first job or enter graduate school?

Here’s the model: Through the partnership with Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor and her team, Braven Fellows — typically sophomores or transferring juniors  — take the “Accelerator Course,” for which they get two elective credits with a time commitment of 4-6 hours a week. This course is taught by volunteer Leadership Coaches, who begin the process of preparing 5-8 college students to be successful in the professional world. 

After that course, Fellows continue to prepare for “strong jobs” by meeting weekly with a professional mentor (also volunteer) in the field they want to work in. They experience mock interviews, prepare presentations, and learn to write strong resumes. Mentors also help them attain summer internships. Currently Braven Fellows are 24% more likely to have at least one internship during college compared to peers.

What does this look like in real life? 

  • Javon Brown was a Spring 2018 Braven Fellow and will graduate from Rutgers University – Newark with his Bachelor’s degree in computer science in May 2021. 
  • Joel Nunez was a Spring 2019 Braven Fellow at Rutgers University- Newark. This May, he graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain Management and currently works as an Account Executive for BOLDMark in Newark, New Jersey. 
  • Aliceya Jerome was a Fall 2018 Braven Fellow and is a current senior studying marketing at Rutgers University – Newark. She has completed two marketing internships to date at Catscape Productions and Braven. 

And check this out:

Welcome to the American Dream, Braven Fellows!

What do you think?

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