December 18, 2023 Category: Our Programs Meet Fresh Air

Boosting Study Skills through The Career Awareness Program

Every Tuesday night at 6pm, Brandon and his tutor Marielle meet at The Fresh Air Fund office in Midtown Manhattan for their weekly tutoring session. After a long day of school for Brandon and work for Marielle, they start the session with a slice of pizza and a quick catchup about their weeks. Then, Brandon unpacks his backpack, and they get to work! 

Brandon and Marielle have been working together for the past semester through the Career Awareness Program (CAP). CAP is designed to help New York City adolescents understand the relationship between school and work and how to make positive choices that will impact their futures. Participants make a three-year commitment to the program. They attend Camp Mariah during the summer and participate in job shadowings, tutoring and more during the school year. These opportunities help build the bridge between education and potential careers. 

During tutoring sessions, volunteer mentors help students focus on building academic skills and setting goals. The pairs work together to create “SMART” goals that are specific, measurable, adaptable, reasonable and time oriented. Throughout the course of the semester, students and tutors also work on homework and study for exams together. 

One of our goals is to help our students get better grades in their classes. One parent told me that her daughter is now great in math and improved her grade from a C to a B+! 

Margorie, tutoring program assistant and CAP alum.

In addition to improving grades, the tutoring program focuses on boosting other study skills. Whether managing their time, organizational skills or communicating with their teachers about assignments, students end the semester with a greater sense of independence. 

Brandon and Marielle working together during tutoring. 

“Tutoring has helped me become more independent,” shared Brandon. “It’s been a really good experience!” 

Our tutors share that they also learn new skills and benefit from volunteering. Marielle decided to volunteer because of her past experience working at an early childhood education center. She then worked with Let’s Get Ready, a college preparedness program, and taught an SAT class. Now she works at The Estée Lauder Companies on the Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability team. Through tutoring, Marielle shares that she has learned to be more patient and how to better communicate difficult subjects. 

The culmination of the semester is a final project: creating their own business. Students are “given” $25,000 to build their own company from scratch and then present their research to their peers on the last day of the semester. Some key aspects they need to highlight are where the business will be located, what it will sell, who the target audience is and how many employees will be hired. Throughout their research, students have to make sure they are tracking all the expenses! 

“I love the presentations,” said Margorie, a tutoring program assistant and CAP alum. “You get to hear the students’ ideas. Sometimes during tutoring sessions, we just go straight into schoolwork. The presentations are an extra opportunity to get to know all the students and for them to work on presentation skills.” 

On the last day of tutoring for the semester, everyone shared their business ideas. From Y2K vintage shops to tropical sushi restaurants to a store that specializes in slime and candles, the business proposals were truly unique. We are so proud of all the students and how much thought and imagination they put into their projects! 

Learn more about the Career Awareness Program and volunteering as a tutor!