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Building a College-Going Culture Forum

Graduate NYC!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM (EST)

New York, NY

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Graduate NYC! and Pathways to Graduation, District 79, Alternative Schools & Programs, NYCDOE, invite you to a Community Best Practices Forum on Tuesday, December 17th, from 9AM – 12PM.  
Graduate NYC! regularly hosts Community Best Practices Forums to provide opportunities to learn about the latest research and disseminate best practices in college readiness and success with other practitioners.  

Leading authorities and numerous research studies suggest that creating a strong college-going culture in schools and communities helps students set goals and generates important values that are critical for getting students to apply to and succeed in college.  This Forum will feature a diverse set of speakers and practitioners with a range of experiences building strong college-going cultures in different environments throughout New York City including:

  • traditional schools that partner with community-based organizations;
  • alternative settings such as high school equivalency programs and alternative schools’ college and career centers; and
  • youth-serving nonprofits. 

Updated Research Speaker 

Vanessa Coca from the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, a research center housed at NYU Steinhardt, and also a Doctoral Candidate at Steinhardt, will present on the work she did for eight years with the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago and her current NYC work. Vanessa is perhaps best known for co-authoring the report From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Road to College (2008).    


Main Panel Discussion

Participants will hear about successful and innovative efforts to build college-going cultures from a NYC-based panel that includes:

  • Fatima Bah, Recent college graduate and former youth leader at Secondary School for Research
  • Michelle Guzman, Assistant Principal , Pathways to Graduation, District 79, NYCDOE
  • Sharlane Smith, Teacher, Future Now, Pathways to Graduation, District 79, NYCDOE
  • Tara Williams, College Prep & Leadership Program Director,  East Side House Settlement
  • Josh Steckel, College Counselor, Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies
  • Katherine Aspell, College Access Coordinator, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow

The panel will be moderated by Sugeni Perez-Sadler, Associate Director, College and Career Planning at Office of Postsecondary Readiness, NYCDOE.  


Breakout Discussions

Attendees will hear from additional organizations and participate in smaller group discussions on the topic of their choice.  Breakout sessions include:

  • Session #1 - Building a College-going Culture Early

Breakout Leaders: 

Charles Guerrero, Director of Leadership Development Opportunities, Prep for Prep Josh Van Kirk, Legends Program Coordinator, Harlem RBI

  • Session # 2 - Creating a Strong College-going Culture for Non-traditional Students

Breakout Leader: Jean Didier Yao, Academic Advisor, Future Now, Bronx Community College

  • Session # 3 - Effective Partnerships for Building a Strong College-going Culture

Breakout Leaders: 

Josh Steckel, College Counselor, Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies

Tara Williams, College Preparation and Leadership Program Director, East Side House Settlement



  • 8:30 - 9:00                Informal Networking/Breakfast
  • 9:00 - 9:40                Welcome & Research Speaker
  • 9:40 - 10:40              Main Panel Discussion including Q & A
  • 10:40 - 10:50            Break/Transition to Breakout Sessions
  • 10:50 - 11:30            Breakout Sessions 1, 2 and 3
  • 11:30 - 11:40            Transition Back to Main Room – Student Dining Hall, 2nd Fl.
  • 11:40 - 12:00            Announcements and Close

Please join us for this dynamic forum, and feel free to share this invitation with your colleagues! 

Please also feel free to reach out to Sharae Brown at for any questions about the Forum.


Have questions about Building a College-Going Culture Forum? Contact Graduate NYC!

When & Where

2nd Floor Student Dining Hall - East End
New York, NY 10019

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM (EST)

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