Nonprofit Braven is built on the premise that when students who have not had the benefits of affluent circumstances are provided the same level of support and opportunities, they will excel. The proof is in their new 2020–2021 Annual Impact Report — a testament to the power of Braven’s model and what can happen when you give these students the tools they need to maximize their potential.
“The co-development of the UNVS 101 Leadership and Career Accelerator course by business, engineering and science faculty jointly with Braven staff has provided a valuable opportunity for all students at San José State University, both undergraduate and graduate, to build important leadership and career-readiness skills in a structured curriculum, with support from fellow students, faculty and industry coaches,” said Thalia Anagnos, vice provost of undergraduate education at SJSU.
Braven’s program is designed to complement the work of career services by scaffolding for students as they learn and master key leadership, career and life skills in two phases: The first is a semester-long, for-credit Accelerator course — UNVS 101 at SJSU — bolstered by coaches and fueled by the community that arises in the cohorts of student “Fellows.” The second allows Fellows to access a “post-course experience,” including one-on-one mentoring and career-building activities that continue beyond college graduation to help ensure their career success.
“We hear from Fellows time and time again that Braven is a reliable support system and like a family,” said Diana Phuong, executive director for Braven Bay Area. “What’s more, the ongoing support students receive from Braven through graduation helps them navigate the challenges that college students, particularly those who are first-generation, often face, whether through advice about their job search, helping to perfect their portfolio, or other ways.”
Gabriel Miranda, who was a spring 2020 Fellow and now an area manager at Amazon says, “Braven helped me learn what I needed to do to be on my path to a successful career and unlocked so many doors for me. Who would’ve thought a boy raised by two immigrant grandmothers from Korea and Mexico would be able to graduate from college and change the lives of his family.”
The “secret sauce” of Braven’s programming is the involvement of more than 75 employer partners, including Adobe, Linkedin and the NBA Foundation, whose employee volunteers gain as much, or more than, they give while serving as the Leadership Coaches. The experience offers them the opportunity to develop themselves by leading diverse teams and motivating promising young professionals — transferable skills that meet their own professional goals.
Employers benefit by the investment made in their own existing workforce as well as by supporting the Fellows through internships and often post-graduation jobs. Partnership in this case is both a retaining tool and a recruitment pipeline.
Some employer partners have also found deeper impact from their support of Braven, especially through the pandemic. Meg Garlinghouse, head of social impact at Linkedin, said that “in a time of deep uncertainty, partnering with Braven has been a concrete way to be part of the movement for racial and economic justice.”
Since starting out with San José State University as its founding partner in higher education in 2014, Braven has expanded its programming via independent college success organizations. Now through BravenX in Chicago and Braven Online, which is nationwide, students involved with these groups can receive a financial stipend to obtain a similar experience outside of the traditional academic model.
Highlights of the 2021 Impact Report
- 69% of Braven Fellows who identify as female obtained what Braven refers to as “a quality first economic opportunity”* after college, outpacing 62% of Fellows who identify as male.
- Female Fellows also outpaced male peers at public four-year universities (56% obtained strong first jobs) and peers nationwide (60%).
- Across races, Braven Fellows surpassed their counterparts at four-year public universities nationally by 15% or more in obtaining quality economic opportunities.
- SJSU Braven graduates were 7% more likely to have at least one internship — mostly completed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic — during college compared to students at four-year public universities nationally.
- 87% of Fellows report that they have expanded their networks to include people with diverse careers and career interests after Braven, and 91% credit Braven’s program to helping them develop or strengthen skills necessary to pursue their goals, according to a study from the Search Institute and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- This year, SJSU supported 324 new fellows on their path to economic mobility.
*Either enrollment in a graduate program or a full-time “strong first job” that requires a college degree and offers a competitive salary, benefits, professional development and pathways to advancement.