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  • The Narrative Project

RYASAP Tapped to Lead MDRC National Initiative “Park City Career Pathways” in Bridgeport


July 13, 2021

CONTACT Ashlee Niedospial 570.778.5916


One of Only Two Cities in U.S. Selected For Action-Research Project Focusing On Students Impacted by COVID-19 Recession

With Support from Bank of America, Will Connect Recent High School Students to Career and Post-Secondary Opportunities


Bridgeport, CT - RYASAP (Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership), today announced that the organization has been selected to lead an MDRC initiative which seeks to connect recent high school graduates and non-graduates in Bridgeport to career pathways and post-secondary education. MDRC, a nationally known research and policy organization, selected Bridgeport as one of two cities in the United States to conduct this action-research project, which will simultaneously collect and analyze data in order to provide effective solutions to eliminate the educational, training, economic and social barriers recent graduates and non-graduates face when accessing their preferred career or post-secondary pathway. Bank of America has awarded RYASAP a $10,000 grant to support this initiative, the Park City Career Pathways. “In terms of tackling some of society's most difficult issues, Bridgeport has always been a city of innovation. We are thrilled that MDRC and The Bank of America Charitable Foundation are recognizing the untapped promise in our great city by selecting Bridgeport as the first location for and in funding this essential initiative,” said Marc Donald, Executive Director, RYASAP. “We look forward to engaging our recent students and leveraging all of the great postsecondary and career opportunities that exist to set them up for future success.” The Park City Career Pathways Initiative will focus on at least 400 Bridgeport “recession” graduates and non-graduates from the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years who are not actively engaged in post-secondary education or a career pathway. According to a study in the Stanford Institute for Economic and Policy Research, “recession” graduates and non-graduates experienced lasting earnings losses and have had higher death rates in middle age compared to their counterparts who entered the labor market in more prosperous times. Experts predict that the COVID-19 recession is likely to have even more severe repercussions for recent graduates and non-graduates than past recessions. “MDRC is delighted to work with RYASAP and its partners on this important initiative,” said Frieda Molina, Director of Economic Mobility, Housing, and Communities at MDRC. “Their team’s energy, commitment, and creativity will help 2020 and 2021 high school graduates successfully transition to postsecondary education and the workforce – and will build a foundation to support Bridgeport’s youth beyond the current pandemic and recessionary period.” Over the course of this 15-month project, this initiative will directly support recent graduates and non-graduates by:

  • Identifying programs that exist and are under-enrolled or have capacity for expansion

  • Developing a menu of opportunities and resources through a landscape analysis

  • Connecting students with resources and pathways

  • Providing workshops, training, and support (such as with navigating FAFSA, etc)

“Bank of America is committed to supporting the economic advancement of our communities through workforce development and education opportunities," said Bill Tommins, President, Bank of America Southern Connecticut. “Our support and resources are most impactful thanks to nonprofit partners like RYASAP, which pinpoint groups and individuals most in need of help. We have countless students who have lived through the unique challenges of schooling during the pandemic, and programs such as Park City Career Pathways are providing them with the postsecondary and career opportunities they need for success.” Support through grant funding will help in:

  • Identifying, reducing and eliminating barriers to enrollment and participation in programs

  • Establishing, creating, and implementing an outreach strategy to connect with graduates and non-graduates

  • Supporting each individual as they embark on a pathway that fits with their current strengths and aligns with their long-term goals

In addition to directly supporting recent students from the Classes of 2020 and 2021, the resources compiled and best practices identified during these fifteen months will serve as the foundation for graduate support moving forward.

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ABOUT RYASAP Established in 1985 and serving the Greater Bridgeport region, RYASAP (Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership) works to ensure the safe and healthy development of youth, young adults, and families by actively engaging organizations, public officials, and community leaders around issues that matter most to the community.

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