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Basta Helps College Students of Color Secure Quality Employment

Project Overview

Basta supports college students of color who are first-generation students or from low-income backgrounds in securing career-pathway jobs upon program completion. This lays the foundation for quality employment and higher earnings throughout their careers.

Each year, talented and ambitious students graduate from college only to encounter systemic barriers that limit their prospects. Basta was created to unlock the possibilities that students can strive toward after graduation. Originally designed as a fellowship program, the organization also launched a capacity building program called Powered by Basta to serve a greater number of students across the country. Anchored in a first-of-its kind career navigation tool that accurately assesses a student’s starting point on their journey, the program’s career readiness training is delivered in partnership with institutions of higher education and college success organizations.

These partnerships make it possible for programs to support students — and for Basta to advance quality employment at a greater scale.

Foundational to Basta’s career success model is centering the young person in their career journey, something that is at the heart of all of our programming and service offerings.

Sheila Sarem, Founder

How it Helps

Not all college graduates are afforded the same benefits from earning a bachelor’s degree. When it comes to starting salaries, graduates from low-income backgrounds begin their careers earning two-thirds as much as their peers from higher-income backgrounds. Even just a $5,000 difference in starting salary can result in $600,000 of lost wages over a lifetime.

College graduates of color are also likely to experience higher rates of unemployment and underemployment, which means their skill set and education level exceed what is required for their role. A recent study from Burning Glass Technologies and the Strada Institute for the Future of Work found that two-thirds of workers who were underemployed in their first job out of college remain underemployed five years later.

Basta is working to close these employment gaps experienced by students of color who are from low-income backgrounds or may be the first in their families to graduate from college. Five years since the founding of Basta’s Fellows program, it is already supporting fellows in securing career-pathway jobs at a rate of 80%. The program opens up the door to a greater level of opportunity and prosperity that will reverberate throughout their lives.

While college success organizations have traditionally focused their efforts on graduation outcomes, there is a growing recognition of the need to prepare students for what comes next. The Powered by Basta career readiness curriculum and resources are tailored to serve a range of partners including nonprofits in college success, charter management organizations, youth-development organizations, and colleges. Current partners include Achievement First, Beyond 12, KIPP, The City University of New York, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Diagnostic Survey for Tailored Support

In collaboration with Bellwether Education Partners, Basta developed a diagnostic tool that assesses an individual’s interests and needs. This includes their level of clarity about which industries or job types are most appealing, their skills and experience, and motivators such as target salary or work environment. The survey can be administered at any point in an individual’s job search process, allowing for usage across a range of program models.

Participating college success organizations receive an interactive dashboard with respondent data along with a guidebook describing how to interpret scores and recommending how to tailor support to individuals based on their results. This approach ensures that every student receives high-quality coaching that acknowledges where they are in their professional journey and is oriented toward where they want to go.

Increasing Workforce Diversity

In addition to advancing career outcomes for individual students of color, Basta also strives to advance systemic change and increase workforce diversity at all levels. The organization partners with employers such as Bloomberg, Jefferies Financial Group, and Snapchat to provide access to diverse talent, professional development to hiring managers, and qualitative data from employee and hiring manager surveys.

Foundation Project Lead