History of the Program

Manhattan College’s Center for Optimal College Readiness (COCR) began as an outreach program to In-Tech Academy in 1999. Since then, it has evolved into a best-practice model, and 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, the outreach program expanded to other Bronx schools thanks to the TITAN project (Transforming Instruction through Technology and the Internet), a USDOE grant valued at $2 million created by Corine Fitzpatrick. The project included tutoring and mentoring of students, and faculty training by Manhattan College education professors.

A $400,000 grant from HESC of NYS helped further this collaboration and demonstrate its sustainability. Having a shared commitment to empower students for optimal college readiness with 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.

Manhattan College institutionalized the program and has continued to support it since 2011.

Today, we bring best practices for counselors and counselors–in-training to local schools and community organizations, and include middle school counselors. They work directly with children and have an enormous impact on student growth and achievement motivation.

We focus on two goals:

  • A multifaceted college readiness program including college advising
  • Outreach from college and graduate students focused on academic improvement

About the Founder

Corine Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., has worked as a teacher and a counselor in New York City, and is widely published on college advising for inner city high school students. Along with Kathleen Costantini, an adjunct professor at Manhattan College and a former teacher and college adviser in New York City, she developed a 9-12 guidance curriculum, which is now being implemented to better serve students as part of the program.