In May 2008, the Foundation released a call for proposals to expand its pilot/phase I College-Community Connections initiative. Through this effort, New York City community-based organizations (CBOs) and colleges/universities were supported to jointly offer programs that introduce underserved high school students to liberal arts education. Study of the liberal arts cultivates higher order capacities that will not only equip students for jobs right out of college but also for the work they will do over the course of a lifetime.
The request for proposals reflected lessons learned during the pilot/round I as well as an evaluation conducted by Metis Associates. It incorporated the following requirements:
a maximum request of $240,000 over three years, of which at least $120,000 was directed to the CBO to support its college preparatory program;
at the college/university, the commitment of an academic department or program in the arts and sciences to house the program and involve its faculty, and the strong support of the institution’s academic and/or administrative leaders;
and a reasonable plan for assessing the program, tracking students after high school graduation, and sustaining the partnership after the grant period is over.
Over 100 representatives from CBOs and colleges/universities gathered for a meeting in August 2008 to consider a proposal submission. Four pilot participants and eight new programs were selected for funding and engaged a wide range of disciplines including American studies, English, environmental science, history, and philosophy. On the college/university side, both public and private institutions were represented. The participating CBOs included settlement houses, academically focused organizations, youth development organizations, and a public high school.
During the second year of the initiative’s funding cycle, the Foundation convened program participants to reflect on their work, build a community of peers, and develop program ideas.
Metis Associates also conducted a second evaluation indicating that the program is a "highly effective model" that exposes talented but disadvantaged high school students to the "rigors, realities, and possibilities of a liberal education.”