The current postsecondary landscape in Louisiana presents a number of challenges for low-income students. Financial barriers, systemic obstacles at local colleges and universities, limited access to community services and transportation, and limited exposure to direct skills-training all contribute to the stark reality in which too many young people are neither in school nor employed.
Next Level NOLA is a program designed by Collegiate to be the best first option for graduating high school seniors of New Orleans’ public schools, offering a rigorous and supportive fellowship that will catalyze their long-term college and career success. Launching in the fall of 2020, the program will offer pathways that prepare students for both high-wage, high-demand careers and higher education, at no cost.
“Our innovative programming offers fellows the opportunity to earn college credit while developing skills to position them for long term success,” says Rhonda Dale, the founding Executive Director of Next Level NOLA and former Principal of Abramson Sci Academy. ”Beyond academics and technical training, we’re about 21st century skills and network building that will last a lifetime.”
Next Level NOLA’s unique model grew from the input of a variety of stakeholders over a number of years, including our partners at KIPP, Youth Force, the Cowen Institute, GNO Inc., the Charter School Growth Fund, and many other community partners. In particular, Collegiate implemented key feedback from our alumni to build this program as a stepping stone between high school and college and career opportunities. In its inaugural year, any graduating senior from Collegiate Academies and KIPP New Orleans looking for a rigorous, cost free option can jumpstart their college and career pathway at Next Level NOLA. We plan to expand the program citywide by 2025.
Students will be able to flexibly schedule their time at Next Level NOLA to work with one-on-one success coaches, participate in workshops, receive career mentoring, and engage in tutoring, all while earning college credit or a career credential. The added flexibility means that students will be able to maintain jobs while they are enrolled at Next Level NOLA. Many students will participate in internships with employer partners directly through Next Level NOLA, in addition to a number of other career exposure opportunities the program will offer Additionally, students will receive additional academic support, such asACT tutoring as a means to expand their college options after graduation.
This year in particular, many high school seniors are having to make difficult decisions about their futures, given the financial hardships and institutional barriers that have resulted from the global pandemic. Collegiate is proud to now be able to offer this cost-free bridge year option to our seniors to catalyze lifelong success, no matter the shape of the future.