The Bronx Opportunity Network (BON) is now a member of the Bronx Transfer Affinity Group (BTAG), a group of CUNY institutions working on student transfer between community college and senior college. BON was formally welcomed into the group during their virtual summit on March 19, 2021. A recording of the summit can be found here.
The BON, founded in 2011 with the support of JobsFirstNYC, is a collaborative of community colleges and local CBO’s that work together to enable underprepared Bronx students to improve their academic skills, overcome personal barriers, and enroll in and complete community college. The BON CBOs are: BronxWorks, CUNY Prep, The Door, East Side House Settlement, Good Shepherd Services, Grace Outreach, and New Settlement Apartments. Through the partnership with BTAG, the BON is formalizing their collaboration with CUNY institutions to support students to and through transferring to senior college and earning their bachelor’s degrees.
BTAG is a partnership consisting of the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), Bronx Community College (BCC), Guttman Community College, Hostos Community College, Lehman College, and the BON, that seeks to create a seamless transfer of associate’s degree students to bachelor’s degree programs at Lehman. The group was formed in 2018, by founding partners BCC, Guttman, Hostos, and Lehman, with BMCC joining in 2020. The group has a long list of critical goals, including: (1) Creating “a sense of belonging for transfer students via specialized services”; (2) Streamlining transfer processes; (3) Increasing the number of students who achieve both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees; and (4) Creating a model that can be replicated across CUNY institutions.
The clear alignment between the two partnerships was emphasized throughout the virtual summit. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. presented a Proclamation to BTAG in recognition of their work thus far, while also lifting up the importance of the BON’s new partnership with the group. BCC President Dr. Thomas A. Isekenegbe said of the new partnership, “I would like to stress how [well the] BON fits into the work we do already with BTAG. These organizations in the BON have a long — and I want to stress long — history of delivering services in our community. The BON is a way for member CBOs to speak with one united voice to CUNY community colleges, which I really think is important. There’s a strength in numbers, but there’s a strength when numbers unite.”
Theory Thompson, Division Director of In School Community Partnerships at Good Shepherd Services and co-chair of the BON, spoke on behalf of the group sharing more about what this new collaborative can provide to the young adults the BON serves. “Our hopes for the BTAG partnership are to continue to deepen our working relationship and extend the impact to more students. We are working to see more young people transferring to senior college, earning bachelor’s degrees, and obtaining family-sustaining careers. We hope to expand the network of support for our young people which they can leverage and utilize in order to reach their college and career goals.”
The event marked the start of a strong collaboration that will reinforce the college access pipeline for Bronx young adults, allowing both groups to provide students aspiring to a bachelor’s degree with the support and guidance necessary to achieve that goal.