The City University of New York (CUNY) and the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) – the two largest educations systems of their kind in the country – are deeply connected by the students they serve.

  • Each year, the NYC DOE educates 1.1 million students in approximately 1,700 schools throughout the New York City;
  • Roughly 60% of the NYC DOE’s college-going graduates attend a CUNY college;
  • Nearly 80% of first-time freshman at CUNY are graduates of NYC DOE schools.

CUNY’s Office of K-16 Initiatives supports the reciprocal partnership between these systems as well as with community partners to help ensure that entering undergraduates are prepared for success, starting with early education and assisting them up to and through college.

CUNY’s Office of K-16 Initiatives works with the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Program Support to better understand program trends and outcomes through research and program evaluation. Click here for statistics on some of our programs.


CUNY’s Office of K-16 Initiatives creates innovative pathways for young New Yorkers to envision and achieve success by engaging strategic partners in confronting systemic educational inequities.

Our office recognizes that one of the best predictors of college success is entering prepared for college-level studies. We are home to a group of innovative programs that share a common goal: helping NYC public school students make a successful transition to college, career, and life beyond. We support the city’s commitment to equity by ensuring high quality transition programs help eliminate achievement gaps between racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups. Our programs are nationally recognized for their commitment to long-term student success.


Collaboration is fundamental to our work. Only in partnership with the New York City Department of Education are we able to offer programs that support students through the transition to college.  Leadership and faculty on CUNY campuses are also integral to the process of planning and implementing programs that strategically support students in attaining their long-term goals.


Our College Counseling Initiatives ensure students across the city receive high-quality college advising in high school and when transitioning to college. We run a Counselor Professional Learning Community for high school guidance and college counselors and co-direct the College Bridge for All program in partnership with the New York City Department Of Education. College Bridge for All places highly-trained college students at high schools from April to August to support graduating seniors to successfully enroll in college.

College Now logo


CUNY’s Office of K-16’s largest program, College Now, enlists 18 colleges and over 470 NYC public high schools in its mission to help prepare students for success in college. The program provides a variety of opportunities, including college-credit courses, college-preparatory courses and activities, experiential-based summer programs, and access to campus facilities and cultural offerings.


The Creative Arts Team (CAT) is an international leader in the arts-in-education field, providing participatory drama workshops and residency programs to more than 15,000 young people, teachers, and parents each year. In addition to direct service and professional development programs, CAT promotes and disseminates its unique methodology through the M.A. in Applied Theatre, in partnership with CUNY’s School of Professional Studies.


The CUNY Affinity Group supports a network of NYC public schools that share a commitment to preparing ALL students for success in college and/or their chosen career path. The CUNY Affinity Group fosters teacher and leader growth through convening educators from across the network to learn from and with one another. The CUNY Affinity Group offers individualized and responsive services to meet the diverse needs of each school, including instructional coaching, curriculum development support, and access to CUNY’s Office of K-16 Initiatives. The Affinity Group routinely looks at common and uncommon measures of student success to assess efforts and refine the work.

CUNY Explorers

Under the Mayor’s Equity and Excellence agenda and College Access for All Initiative, the New York City Department of Education and CUNY have partnered to implement CUNY EXPLORERS. This program aims to ensure that every middle-school student is exposed to a college-going culture and has the opportunity to visit a college campus at least once in grades six through eight. CUNY sees middle school as the foundation for success in high school, college, and career.


CUNY LINCT (Lessons in Navigating College Transition) is a comprehensive, school-based program designed to support students, teachers, and counselors in NYC public schools. The program goals include supporting deeper development of academic literacy and math skills as well as providing resources for high school teachers and counselors to help students navigate the college application and matriculation process.


CUNY Prep is an innovative HSE (High School Equivalency) to college program based in the Bronx serving out-of-school youth ages 16-19. CUNY Prep’s three-phase model includes HSE instruction, scaffolded college readiness preparation and alternative pathways to college, including on-site associate degree study.


The CUNY Tutor Corps in Math and Computer Science brings students from CUNY colleges into middle and high school classrooms, helping them become highly effective tutors and teaching assistants in the mathematics and computer science classrooms of 180 schools by 2020. CUNY Tutor Corps is a partnership between CUNY, the Office of the Mayor, New York City Department of Education, and others.

Debating U.S. History

The Debating U.S. History (DUSH) program consists of a U.S. History curriculum and professional learning community designed to transform the traditional Regents-assessed New York City Department of Education 11th grade U.S. History and Government Social Studies survey class. The course embeds academic literacy instruction in an inquiry-oriented course that prepares students for the demands of college-level study in the social sciences.

Early College Initiative

The Early College Initiative at CUNY (ECI) develops and supports innovative public schools in New York City that provide students from a broad range of backgrounds the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree (or up to two years of transferable college credit) at no cost to students and the their families. The schools are designed to provide this opportunity to students who have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Each of CUNY’s 17 early college schools is developed in partnership with a CUNY college, offering a coherent program of study to ensure students’ success in high school, college and beyond.

Freedom Prep

Freedom Prep is a college transition program for court-involved students age 16-24. The goal is to provide a supported, structured on-ramp to college for currently and formerly incarcerated and court-involved young people. In addition to the opportunity to earn college credits through specially designed free college classes, the students receive college counseling and advising through CUNY programs such as The John Jay Institute for Justice and Opportunity, College Now, and CUNY Start.


A product of the partnership between the New York City Department of Education, CUNY, and the Office of the Mayor, Graduate NYC is a citywide initiative dedicated to significantly increasing college completion rates throughout New York City. By scaling promising, high-impact practices and facilitating collaboration between philanthropic, educational and nonprofit institutions, Graduate NYC magnifies the effectiveness of the college access and success sector as a whole.

Network for College Success

The CUNY Network for College Success aims to significantly increase college persistence and graduation rates in New York City by coordinating student supports, through harnessing the collective efforts of youth-serving organizations and CUNY college advisors, counselors and student success professionals.


The STEM Research Academy is a two-semester program consisting of a spring pre-college science course and a summer research experience, designed to provide students with an opportunity to build essential literacy and numeracy skills while engaging in authentic inquiry activities.