COVID-19 Project Overview
To address the needs of students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, The Opportunity Network (OppNet) is launching an online open-access learning platform called UninterruptED: Unstoppable Learning.
OppNet’s proven college success and career readiness programming will be available free of charge to schools, youth-serving organizations, students of color, and first-generation or low-income college students. Through the learning platform, OppNet aims to support students on their journey to a degree and into their chosen career.
COVID-19 is already laying bare and exacerbating the pervasive and deeply entrenched opportunity gaps our students face every day, the same gaps driving OppNet’s mission. We hope that UninterruptED will help to close this divide and level the playing field, providing opportunity to all.AiLun Ku, President and CEO of OppNet
How it Helps
The economic downturn finds young adults at a disadvantage as they enter the workforce, with many job seekers competing for fewer positions. Applicants may find lower salaries, jobs with few benefits, and reduced negotiating power. And as recent trends have demonstrated, these impacts are likely to disproportionately impact people of color and those without a college degree.
While the economic recession has demonstrated the value of a college degree, students of color and those from low-income communities are less likely to access quality advising in high school, and ultimately see lower college completion rates than their peers. As coronavirus cases continue to spike, the full impact of the pandemic’s disruption to our education systems remains to be seen, but the Black and Latinx communities experiencing the highest rates of infection and bearing the greatest financial impact may be hit hardest by its ripple effects.
When it comes to college access, receiving a degree, and preparing for success in the workforce, students are facing deeply entrenched social challenges. But there are practical solutions that can help level the playing field and make it possible for them to pursue their career goals. From college exposure, application assistance, and financial aid guidance to resume-building internships and networking opportunities, the OppNet curriculum is designed to build the skills and connections required for students to reach college graduation and pursue a meaningful career.
A Proven Model, From College to Career
UninterruptED will draw on key learnings from OppNet’s six-year Fellows program, which engages students starting the summer after 10th grade, cultivating their passion and skills to persist through college and launch their careers. The open access platform will also feature learnings from OppNet’s Career Fluency® Partnerships program, which focuses on capacity-building for schools and youth-serving organizations looking to accelerate postsecondary and workforce readiness.
Designed as both a resource for instructors to integrate Career Fluency® into their virtual programs and classrooms and for students to access directly, UninterruptED offers flexible courses and progressive learning pathways that provide a cohesive learning experience. UninterruptED also utilizes online learning best practices to drive usage and persistence and is hosted on an intuitive, technology-lite learning management system, so those who are most impacted by the digital divide face fewer barriers to accessing its content.
In September 2020, this virtual college success and career readiness programming expanded on the traditional OppNet model to reach an additional 5,000 students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Since its founding in New York City in 2003, OppNet has supported its Fellows to graduate college at a rate of 92%, more than 90% of whom are the first in their family to do so. Eighty-nine percent of Fellows secure meaningful employment or graduate school admission after graduation.