The Brooklyn College Community Partnership (BCCP) is a youth development program bridging Brooklyn College to the broader Brooklyn community through initiatives in public middle and high schools and at our Brooklyn College Arts Lab (BCAL). As a youth-centered organization with a long history of community engagement and empowerment, we invite our students to bring their histories, knowledge, and expertise to the learning process. Through our unique relationship with Brooklyn College, we further connect youth to the College campus by leveraging our resources at BCAL, which includes a STEM lab, 2 music studios, a performance stage, and a fashion design lab.
Founded in 1991 by Brooklyn College psychology professor Nancy Romer, BCCP sees every young person as “college material.” Our dynamic, flexible programs engage them with activities that tap into their creativity and lived experiences. Our staff participates in a rich professional development program including 5 weeks each summer. Our working artists are creative professionals who bring deep respect to the students with whom they work. Academic and emotional support follow naturally from our youth-centered approach.
Through our ongoing partnership with the BC psychology department, undergraduates enrolled in a comprehensive youth development course spend 63 hours per semester leading activities, tutoring, and mentoring our youth participants—providing a very personal link to higher education.
BCCP works with over 1,500 young people at sites on 7 public school campuses (a total of 12 middle and high schools), and at our Brooklyn College Arts Lab (BCAL), located on the College campus.
Our school-based programs are available to students after-school and during free time for academic support, hands-on creative projects with working artists, college prep and impromptu counseling.
At BCAL, on the Brooklyn College Campus, 50-80 students per day from across our sites make the college campus their own, as they participate in after-school and weekend arts and technology workshops such as fashion design, electronic music, web design, filmmaking, yoga, and poetry.
BCAL is also the site for our signature college access program, The Brooklyn College Experience, in which students take a participatory research-based scavenger-hunt tour of the campus with cameras, participate in BCAL arts activities, and may meet with college admissions counselors, faculty and students. This program builds a crucial bridge to the college campus for BCCP students at all sites (including younger students and those at a greater geographic distance), and connects students from schools we do not currently partner with to BCCP programs.
Addressing Inequity, Supporting Marginalized Youth
For the schools with which we work, average graduation rates hover at 59%, college is not the norm, and poverty dominates (for our partner schools, the Department of Education reports an average poverty rate of 73.5%).
Our programs draw and retain young people across academic rank—and have appeal for mid-range students who might not otherwise seek out academic enrichment programs. While higher education is considered standard for mid-range students in middle-class schools, in under-resourced urban schools, these students often receive little encouragement to do anything more than graduate high school.
BCCP is committed to connecting these young people to higher education, in real and meaningful ways. As the limits of our students imaginations are stretched, the possibilities for their futures expand: in 2008 through 2012, 85% of participating BCCP seniors were accepted to colleges. These college-bound students cover a wide range of academic rank and parental engagement.
Changing School Cultures
Being part of BCCP means thinking about college. When students spend time in BCCP programs, they invest in college as a real possibility. When schools partner with us, whether on their site or on the Brooklyn College campus, their students start talking about, dreaming of, and applying for college. For under-resourced urban schools that often don’t consider their students “college material” this palpable energy around higher education has a great impact. Teachers, counselors, and administrators shift the way they see their students, and as our students’ imaginations expand to include college, their schools follow. The demand for our day program, The Brooklyn College Experience, has expanded beyond our current capacity as schools experience its tangible results.
Network Model—Creating Linkages
Across all of our programming, our network model means that the impact of our work is far greater than the sum of its parts: by engaging parents, school staff, college students and faculty, working artists, and community members, BCCP weaves a strong web of support from which young people can imagine college in their future. As a separate entity from both the public schools and Brooklyn College, BCCP is able to make connections between these institutions while providing unique, youth-centered programming. With Brooklyn College as its hub our programs extend to all corners of Brooklyn. Students are served in their own neighborhoods and are introduced to college by participating in programs at BCAL.