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Overview, Mission & History


America Needs You fights for economic mobility for ambitious, first-generation college students. We do this by providing transformative mentorship and intensive career development.


Since 2009, ANY has been improving college completion and employment rates for first-generation college students. The agency was founded on the belief that socio-economic status should not be a barrier to college persistence and career success. Robert Reffkin, a former appointee to the NYC Workforce Investment Board and two-time appointee to the NYC Board of Education Panel for Educational Policy, recognized the incredible unmet need for mentorship and career preparation for low-income students, particularly those who are the first in their families to go to college. Compelled to action, Robert founded ANY (formerly New York Needs You) in 2009 to mobilize a movement of young, professional volunteers to assist these students in rising above their circumstances. After successful and sustained results in New York, ANY expanded to New Jersey in 2012, Illinois in 2015, and California in 2016.


Access to higher education has improved in recent years, and today nearly one third of all students enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education are the first in their families to pursue a degree. Despite this growth in college access, there is still a disparity in graduation rates between first-generation college students and their peers.

Today, only 21% of low-income, first-generation college students complete four-year college degrees. Many leave school in good academic standing.

Those who do graduate have a median household income 27% lower than their peers.

College isn’t enough. 50% of hiring managers reported that even after finishing a four-year degree, recent college graduates are not “job ready”.

While there are a multitude of college access programs for high school seniors and job assistance programs for low-wage earners, there are few programs that ensure first-generation students stay in school and build the skills necessary to prepare for long-term careers.



Our Fellows Program
Is Accepting Applications

for 2024