History of the Program
- In 1999, The Center for Optimal College Readiness (COCR) started as an outreach program from Manhattan College to one school in the Bronx (In-Tech Academy). That partnership has been continuous, has evolved into a best-practice model, and in national presentations, it has been praised as being at the forefront of bringing professional development to K-12 schools by using college students as mentors and tutors.
- In 2001, as part of the TITAN project (Transforming Instruction through Technology and the Internet - a USDOE grant valued at $2 million, written and received by Corine Fitzpatrick), the outreach program expanded to other Bronx schools, through tutoring and mentoring of students, and faculty training by Manhattan College education professors.
- A recent grant to COCR ($400,000 – 2009-2011 from HESC of NYS) helped further this collaboration and demonstrate its sustainability. Specifically, knowing that the commitment to empower students for optimal college readiness is shared by the local community, the center included two organizations in the grant, the New Marble Hill Community Center (serving a large Section 8 housing complex) and St. Stephen’s Methodist Church, to develop a small financial resource computer room for their community. The community draws students from the Kennedy High School complex, which has well over 50 percent of its students on free lunch.
- In 2011, Manhattan College understood the importance of this community involvement, institutionalized the program and has continued to support it.
The Program Today
The current vision includes bringing best practices for counselors and counselors–in-training to local schools and community organizations and including middle school counselors, because it is these groups who work directly with children and have an enormous impact on student growth and achievement motivation. We have focused on two goals:
- A multifaceted college readiness program including college advising
- Outreach from college and graduate students focused on academic improvement
Corine Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., who has worked as a teacher and a counselor in New York City has presented and published on college advising for inner city high school students. She brings that particular expertise to the vision of the center. A 9-12 guidance curriculum was developed jointly with Kathleen Costantini, an adjunct professor at Manhattan College and a former teacher and college adviser in New York City, which is now being implemented to better serve students as part of the program.