College Access Series: Collegiate Express

Students stream back into schools across the country every fall. A third of CAMBA’s clients are young people and, with them in mind, we are spending September and October celebrating their achievements within our agency’s college-access programs. This will be the first of three profiles.

“Prior to this program, I didn’t know much about the college process. Now, I’m going to be the first-generation person in my family to attend a four-year university.”

Faina Belle, SUNY Binghamton, Class of 2021

The college application process can be confusing and stressful, especially to those who are without a parent or friend who’s been through it all before. Faina Belle is a bright student who didn’t have access to college application guidance and support until she found CAMBA’s Collegiate Express program. She said “Prior to this program, I didn’t know much about the college process. Now, I’m going to be the first-generation person in my family to enroll.” CAMBA’s Collegiate Express (CE) program is dedicated to preparing low- and moderate-income high school freshmen living in Flatbush and East Flatbush, Brooklyn for college. It is unique in that it supports students for all four years of their high school careers, and also in how parents and guardians are brought into the process.

Collegiate Express Achievements

All 26 members of CAMBA’s pilot cohort received acceptance offers from colleges.

4 students are attending college on full scholarships.

2 students were accepted into a paid prestigious summer internship program with Girls Who Code.

1 student received a highly competitive, full scholarship, the AT&T Aspire to Tech Scholarship, which gave her a full ride for an online coding program.

CAMBA has placed a record of 39 students in summer employment for 2017, including The Go Project, Lower Manhattan Presbyterian Hospital, Girls Who Code, Glen Bank Law Firm and the T4 Technology internship at the Brooklyn Public Library.

“CAMBA’s college-access programs provide young people with social supports and opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be connected with,” said Christie Hodgkins, Senior Vice President for Education and Youth Development. Parents of first-generation college students are paired with parent coaches who have gone through the process with their own children and who can provide parental guidance through the process’s many unknowns. Students make visits to college campuses alongside parent coaches, which helps to make the momentous decision of choosing a college a bit less unnerving for first-generation families like Faina’s.

Faina Belle
SUNY Binghamton, Class of 2021

Faina Belle stated that Collegiate Express used “very hands-on activities that helped me to understand thoroughly what the college process was like, as well as high school.” Not only does Collegiate Express provide academic help, but Faina also said that “Through Collegiate Express, I was broken out of my comfort zone. I became more comfortable asking questions and networking.” Now in her first year of college at Binghamton University, Faina says she wants to be able to “use the knowledge [CE has] taught me throughout the college process,” and she hopes to further her interest in the law by beginning her study of it this year.


CAMBA connects New Yorkers to opportunities through its dedicated staff, who are trained to provide solutions to the biggest challenges of life in New York.