A Fighting Chance

As a program coordinator in Chicago for the national nonprofit America Needs You (ANY), Char Figueroa ’16 fights for the economic mobility of ambitious first- generation college students.

It’s a challenge she understands well, as someone whose parents did not complete college.

ANY is an intensive career development and mentorship program that provides the holistic support necessary for students to successfully navigate the college-to-career transition. This includes professional and academic skill-building, financial support, access to robust networks and a 1-1 young professional volunteer.

“We believe it’s not enough (for first- gen students) to graduate from college,” she said. “They need the professional development skills to be successful in their careers.”

Prospective Fellows apply for the program during their freshman year of college. After being matched with a Mentor Coach, both attend 28 full-day workshops over the course of two years. Fellows receive support in securing at least two internships and a financial grant for their professional development.

Grateful for her own mentors at Bradley, Figueroa recalled how they supported her. She remembers that feeling when she speaks to ANY’s Fellows.

“I used to ask myself, ‘How is it I don’t know how to navigate this, how to even fill out the FAFSA?’” she said. “Getting involved with America Needs You has legitimized my experiences.”