New York, NY
Founded in 2016projectbasta.com
Basta creates a bridge of opportunity between employers and first-generation college students of color, helping students navigate the job search process, develop the skills to communicate their unique value-add, and prepare for success on day one of employment.
This KUMU map illustrates the web of relationships put within reach for students. Thicker lines indicate strong relationship ties (daily to weekly contact). Dotted lines indicate weak relationship ties (less frequent contact).
Peers, Program Managers, Career Success Managers, College Success Partners.
Alumni Coaches, employers, volunteers.
Key Design Insight
Basta provides its Fellows with weekly opportunities to find shared identity and a web of support within peer cohorts while helping them develop networking skills and industry-specific preparedness by encouraging information-sharing among peers in any cohort.
builds social capital
Basta builds program participants’, known as Fellows, social capital by fostering regular peer-to-peer collaboration and information sharing, all while providing networking skills training and opportunities to apply those skills in networking events with prospective employers and industry volunteers. Through the program, Fellows identify and practice engaging with key members of their existing network (e.g. classmates, professors, etc.) while simultaneously growing their networks via regular interactions with peers within and across cohorts. These interactions include providing each other with feedback on their personal narratives, sharing their experiences in the job search process for specific industries or companies, and practicing key interview answers together. Fellows also connect with near-peer Alumni Coaches already in the workforce and additional staff and volunteers.
The Basta Cohort Experience
Basta’s efforts to prepare first-generation college students of color to secure career-pathway jobs involves not just coaching Basta Fellows on the mechanics of job searching, networking, and community building, but also careful cultivation of both attitudes on either side of the bridge and of the connections across the bridge. The program coaxes Fellows into recognizing the strengths they derive from their often-overlooked backgrounds and surfaces those qualities such that employers can discard their own preconceived notions and recognize the value of diversifying their talent pipeline.
Basta annually admits seven cohorts of 25-30 Fellows, with the number of cohorts expected to grow as the program scales. Fellows hail from universities such as CUNY, college access/success providers such as Bottom Line, and organizations such as settlement houses and charter management organizations. During the first ten weeks of the program, Basta divides each cohort into groups of seven to nine peers that meet weekly with a dedicated Program Manager. These meetings give Fellows an opportunity to openly share their experiences as members of the program, to build community, to cover Basta’s career readiness curriculum, and to recognize their unique and collective strengths.
Basta cultivates a culture of sharing information, especially among peers who are interested in working in the same industry, such as finance or tech. Fellows also attend at least three networking events, some hosted by hiring employers, and others more geared toward practicing networking in a lower-stakes environment. All in all, Basta guides Fellows through roughly 50 hours of programming during the first ten weeks.
Over the next several weeks, Fellows progress through the job search phase in a mixed-cohort group of 6-12 program participants, with the goal of securing career-pathway employment within six months of graduation. They receive targeted job search support, including a combination of employer engagement events; feedback on job application materials; and three weekend workshops that include job search skills, job matching, and coaching from Career Success Managers and Alumni Coaches who help with resume-building and cover letters. Basta encourages Fellows to actively think about how to leverage their network throughout. Once a Fellow lands a job, Basta accompanies the graduate for roughly a year, facilitating monthly graduate meet-ups and offering individualized support on an as-needed basis.
Basta offers employer partners an opportunity to meet with Fellows in a variety of formats, depending on the employer’s capacity. Events range from company spotlights, in which two or three volunteers of any experience level provide an overview of their company and highlight career pathways available with that employer, to mock interview sessions with more experienced volunteers. These events broaden Fellows’ perspectives while supporting employers in their quest to hire, keep, and promote a more diverse workforce.
Peers: Basta Fellows establish small learning communities focused on developing shared identity, offering socio-emotional support, and providing each other feedback on various stages of the fellowship experience during the program and employment experience afterward. Fellows also engage in weekly job search sessions, sharing experiences and information on their industry of choice and helping each other maintain accountability during the job search process.
Program Managers: Fellows work closely with their cohort Program Managers throughout the first ten weeks of the program. Program Managers facilitate highly interactive weekly sessions, deliver curriculum to meet specific learning objectives, and are available for one-on-one conversations as needed.
Career Success Managers: Fellows engage with Career Success Managers during the job search phase of the program. Career Success Managers guide weekend workshops, coach Fellows as they navigate employer events, and help Fellows troubleshoot during office hours.
Employers: Fellows interact with prospective employers, all of which have a presence in New York, through a series of scheduled events that Basta has transitioned from face-to-face to virtual during the pandemic. Either Basta or the employer organizes the events, based on the employer’s capacity and preference. Basta encourages Fellows to build relationships and flesh out their networks during these events.
Volunteer Force: Fellows engage with Industry Volunteers in a variety of ways, including individual meetings to address industry-specific questions and mock interview calls. Basta looks to these volunteers to identify job opportunities for and advocate on behalf of Fellows within their employers, and to eventually help establish new employer partnerships.
Alumni Coaches: Fellows work with near-peer Alumni Coaches on resume building and cover letter writing. Basta is continuously working to strengthen these near-peer relationships by identifying and codifying tasks that near-peers can perform in lieu of Career Success Managers.
College Success Partners: Fellows who are still enrolled in college or who are affiliated with Basta’s postsecondary partners receive additional support from College Success Partners. This includes roughly 30% of Fellows.
Design Tools & Tips
Leverage shared backgrounds. Basta’s peer cohort model not only creates a web of mutual support, it also provides validation. Given the shared background of many Fellows as first-generation college-goers, weekly discussion groups surface common insecurities and misconceptions about the job search process and about the role that relationships play in finding employment. Peers also help each other identify and signal strengths they already possess but that aren’t always recognized in the labor market.
Provide alumni with ongoing support. Basta accompanies its graduates for a year after they land a job, recognizing that Fellows benefit from support as challenges arise in the workplace. For example, Fellows discuss what happens when they encounter bias and how they should address problematic situations. In the dampened labor market, Basta is also training and hiring its own job-seeking alumni. One such opportunity is working as a Resume Coach or Cover Letter Coach.
Cultivate a culture of sharing. Basta encourages information sharing among peers, especially along industry lines. Fellows actively and freely share industry knowledge and news with each other, as well as useful, up-to-date information for applying to and interviewing for jobs. Also, anecdotally, Fellows who were less vocal sharers in in-person environments have become much more involved in an all-virtual setting.
Fellows who secure a career-pathway job within six months of graduating.
Fellows who are retained 12 months into their first job.
Average salary of Basta graduates at for-profit employers.
More Case Studies
StreetWise Partners is a nonprofit that leverages mentorship to increase employment opportunities for adults from overlooked and under-resourced communities.
Beyond 12 is a nonprofit that supports low-income, first-generation, and historically underrepresented students through college using a longitudinal student tracking platform and a personalized student coaching service.
COOP helps Black, Latinx, low-income, and first-generation college graduates develop the technical skills and social capital they need to jumpstart careers in upwardly mobile fields, overcoming underemployment.