Career Attainment

Quality first jobs are more important than ever for college graduates from low-income backgrounds. Many students start college expecting to leave with good-paying jobs with benefits that allow them to pay back loans, help their parents or other family members financially, and lead a self-sustaining life. Instead, the jobs that college graduates from low-income backgrounds eventually land set them on an incongruent path to earn 66 cents on the dollar compared to their more affluent peers.

The Issue

Only 1 out of 4 low-income or first generation students who enter college will attain a strong first job or enroll in grad school. This produces a talent deficit of 900,000 low-income or first-generation young people every year.

Our Approach

The CAFE invests in organizations that enable students to seize opportunities that supplement the college experience and are vital in obtaining career readiness skills.


Braven empowers untapped college students with the skills, confidence, networks and experiences needed to succeed professionally beyond graduation. To do so, Braven partners with universities and employers to offer a rigorous, credit-bearing career-acceleration course followed by a post-course experience for college students who are first-generation or from low-income backgrounds. From Braven will come a generation of leaders as diverse as our future demands.
View their website to learn more.

Chicago Scholars is a seven-year college access, success and leadership development program for financially under-resourced and first-generation Chicago students. CS is the largest college access and success program in Chicago serving more than 3,000 Scholars and Alumni each year. CS is committed to moving the dial for Chicago’s youth, the organization works to develop deep collaborations with community based organization and has a national network of more than 175 selective enrollment and ivy league college and university partners.
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The Partnership for College Completion is a new nonprofit organization launched to catalyze and champion policies, systems and practices that ensure all students in and around Chicago – particularly low-income, first-generation students – graduate from college and achieve their career aspirations. Launching this regional organization is the culmination of a two-year planning process that was led by Forefront’s College and Career Access, Persistence and Success (CCAPS) group and involved hundreds of stakeholders from across Chicago, the region and the nation.
View their website to learn more.

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