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Students who participate in Braven's career readiness program

Braven Prepares Underrepresented Young Adults for Career Success

Project Overview

Braven’s career readiness programming enables underrepresented young people — namely college students from low-income backgrounds, who are first in their families to attend college or are people of color — to gain the skills, networks, and professional experiences needed to transition successfully from college to a strong first job. That means a job that requires a bachelor’s degree, and a position that is full time with a combination of employee benefits, promotion pathways, and a market-competitive salary.

The program begins with a semester-long course on skill development and leadership training. Through partnerships with four large public universities in the United States, students, known as Fellows, earn college credit for their participation. The course also unlocks access to professional mentorship, internship and job placement opportunities, and networking skills and connections. Students not enrolled in one of these four partner universities can participate in Braven’s 15-week virtual program, BravenX.

Braven Fellows are translating this experience into professional success, with 70% attaining a strong first job within six months of graduation.

Braven Fellows have proven what’s possible when they are empowered with the skills, networks, experiences and confidence necessary to launch a strong career.

Aimee Eubanks Davis, Braven Founder and CEO

How it Helps

Each year, 1.2 million students who are first generation or from low-income backgrounds will graduate from college. Only 25% of them will secure a strong first job or attend graduate school. In addition, low-income students graduating with a bachelor’s degree will start their career earning two-thirds as much as their peers from higher-income backgrounds.

During college, underrepresented students may lack the opportunity to develop:

  • Professional competencies, such as working in teams, problem solving, and networking and communication
  • Professional experience, including internships
  • Professional networks, to provide mentorship, endorsements, and connections

Braven is designed to equip students with the skills, experience, and relationships to address these inequities and, ultimately, enter the workforce on equal footing. The Accelerator Course is offered for college credit at four partner universities: Lehman College at the City University of New York, San José State University, Rutgers University – Newark, and National Louis University in Chicago.

Through the intensive offerings in Braven’s coursework and the post-Accelerator experience, students build relationships with local professionals who serve as volunteers in the program. This includes the Leadership Coach who serves as each cohort’s primarily facilitator, mock interviewers, and Professional Mentors who provide weekly, one-to-one career coaching.

Students associated with partner college success organizations are able to participate through BravenX, which offers 15 weeks of virtual career-readiness programming.

In the 2019-2020 school year, 95% of Braven Fellows persisted or graduated from college, 73% of Braven Fellows had at least one internship during college, and 70% of Braven Fellows secured a quality full-time job worthy of a bachelor’s degree or enrolled in graduate school within six months of college graduation.

The Changing Employment Landscape

The coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic recession resulted in layoffs, hiring freezes, furloughs, and the reduction of internships, making it even more challenging for students to secure a strong job after graduation. What’s more, graduating in a recession often leads to lower earnings and underemployment — both in the near-term and over time.

Amid this growing need, Braven’s virtual programming, BravenX, provides a path to advance the career readiness of a greater number of underrepresented students preparing to enter the workforce. Following a successful pilot of BravenX in 2019, the organization is planning to run three additional semesters virtually between now and summer 2022. The 2021 BravenX cohort includes 250 students who are enrolled at partner charter management or college success organizations.

BravenX is delivered fully virtually through a combination of online modules, completed asynchronously, and weekly virtual meetings with small student cohorts and a Leadership Coach, who is a volunteer professional from the workforce. Participants continue to receive post-course support as they persist through college and ultimately secure a strong first job.

Despite current challenges – and mobilized by the economic crisis — Braven is working to ensure that today’s underrepresented young adults become the diverse leadership of the next generation.

Foundation Project Lead