“According to stereotypes for my demographic, I would have joined a gang, dropped out of school, been in and out of jail, and been a father but not a husband. Instead, I’m in college on full scholarship, preparing to earn my CPA and start a career in one of the Big 4 accounting firms. The biggest factor in my ability to dream big, and know my goals are achievable, has been OppNet.”
– Shatiek Gatlin, Senior at Babson College and OppNet Fellows Class of 2016
Shatiek, like all of the students The Opportunity Network (OppNet) serves, is smart, motivated, and diligent, but that is not enough. In fact, only 10 out of every 100 low-income students who matriculate at college will actually graduate, and virtually none are prepared for careers.
Low-income students do not get the necessary college and career exposure, guidance, or skills to compete with their more affluent counterparts, who spend years growing up “career-fluent”—immersed in college and career conversations around the dinner table, exposed to professional norms at their parents’ offices, and inspired by the varied majors or careers of their neighbors and friends. Instead, coming from overburdened schools and families without financial means, low-income students are deeply ensconced on the wrong side of the opportunity gap, and even the most talented among them are likely destined for a lifetime of unrealized potential.
OppNet closes this gap. Our best-in-class Career Fluency® curriculum is delivered through three programs, serving students from 9th grade through to college graduation:
- OppNet Fellows – Our intensive six-year program works with students from the summer after their 10th grade year of high school through to college graduation and jobs.
- OppNet Prep – Our one-year bridge for 9th graders that launches them toward college and careers.
- Career Fluency® Partnerships – Our work with urban schools and youth-serving organizations to adapt and integrate Career Fluency® into their programs to amplify college and career outcomes for their own students.
Along with college guidance, career exposure and professional etiquette, Career Fluency® differs from other college and career development curricula in its emphasis on personal and professional networks and the importance of social capital in navigating college and the professional world.
As a result, our students’ achievements far exceed national statistics. For example, 98% of our students in our Fellows program matriculate at four-year colleges, with 55% ultimately attending top colleges they had not heard of before OppNet (like Brown, Dartmouth, Hampshire, Pomona, Tufts, Wharton, Williams and many more). Further, 100% graduate from college and 85% secure professional-track jobs or graduate school admission within six months of graduation.
OppNet is deeply grateful to the Fund II Foundation for partnering with us to enhance our programs and grow our reach to an exponential number of young people.