I joined Alluma as One Degree’s Director of New Markets in March, but I’ve been partnering with the One Degree team for nearly three years now. My journey started in 2018 with an exciting new project in New York City called Fair Futures and I found some familiar challenges along the way.
Connecting Dreams and Aspirations to Services and Programs
The Fair Futures NYC program model serves young people who have been in the foster care system. The core of the Fair Futures model is a deep focus on the youths’ aspirations, strengths, and identity. It consists of a robust middle school program that prepares students for success in high school, and a long-term coaching program from 9th grade until age 26. The model includes 3,000+ young people served by 300+ staff in 26 nonprofits across five boroughs — no easy feat!
This deep focus on individual youth aspirations meant that Fair Futures staff and young people needed the ability to explore the academic and career resources, programs, and services available in NYC.
Shouldn’t This be Searchable?
I was assigned the task of collecting and organizing all the relevant resources, programs, and services. During this process, I found important resource information offered in different locations. For example, while two different print manuals were available from two different organizations, a third organization tracked this information in a set of four Excel spreadsheets and two PDF documents. A fourth organization employed a consultant to update its list annually.
And each of them had unique resources that were critical to the success of Fair Futures!
I’ve seen this everywhere I’ve worked. From Chicago to Washington, D.C. to New York City, incredible teams of people come together to fund, build, and deliver innovative programs and services to help their communities. And in each of these places, the same questions were asked: Which organization provides what programs? Who can apply? How? Where? Shouldn’t this be searchable?
Equal and Easy Access for All
At Fair Futures, we quickly realized that an online directory was needed. A one-stop shop with all available resources and related critical information would help ensure everyone had equal and easy access to all the rich academic and career opportunities that NYC has to offer.
After initially exploring a custom-built directory, we realized that Fair Futures wouldn’t have the expertise and capacity to maintain a software platform and all of the resource information. So, the team started looking for an existing tool that could be customized for Fair Futures and NYC, and found the right partner in One Degree, by Alluma.
One Degree can be accessed on almost any device via desktop and mobile website browsers, iPhone and Android mobile apps, and text-to-search. Resources included in the One Degree database are updated at least every six months, and all resources are easily printed and shared by Fair Futures coaches and specialists.
One Degree + Fair Futures NYC launched in 2020 with a set of 470 high-quality internship, job readiness, and vocational/sector-based training programs. Later that year, The City University of New York (CUNY) reached out to Fair Futures, became an official partner, and the One Degree Resource Management team added 300 CUNY certificate programs. In spring 2021, several hundred more CUNY internship and upskilling programs were added. In total, nearly 1,500 searchable academic and career opportunities for young people are now available on One Degree!
The Fair Futures + One Degree partnership has been a huge success. Fair Futures gets to focus on the aspirations of young people, CUNY gets to focus on providing a first-rate public education, and One Degree handles operating, maintaining, and updating the directory and resources information that helps turn aspirations into reality.