This week, high school students from across NYC gathered to learn about a brand new program focused on helping them navigate the ins and outs of the college application process, while forging inroads to potential arts-related careers. Two of the city’s leading nonprofits – ArtsConnection and Futures and Options – have joined forces to provide this one-of-a-kind program made possible through the generosity of The Pinkerton Foundation.

Named “OnTRaC” the initiative is a complement to ArtsConnection’s acclaimed Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC) program. TRaC enables high school students to study with professional critics and artists in guided explorations of NYC’s cultural world, learning to discuss and write critically about their experiences. They deepen critical thinking and writing skills, their knowledge of the arts, and the belief in their own potential. Because the 15:1 ratio of students-to-instructor is a fraction of that found in large public high schools, the program helps prepare students for the vigorous discourse of a college classroom, while offering access to the city’s cultural life in a way that would simply not otherwise be possible.

“We are thrilled to partner with Futures & Options. Our program provides an inclusive and collaborative environment where young people discover, often for the first time, the power of the arts as a basis for dialogue about issues that directly affect them—personally and as part of the larger community. Our goal is to send arts-interested NYC teens into the larger world well prepared for success,” says Steven Tennen, Executive Director of ArtsConnection.

OnTRaC students will participate in specially-designed career development and college readiness workshops spearheaded by Futures and Options. The program includes fieldtrips to arts-related businesses, college campuses, as well as a mentorship component where students will be paired with an arts-professional. “Through OnTRaC, young people will gain exposure to a range careers in the arts, while they engage with caring adults and mentors to discover and access post-secondary opportunities that will help launch their own professional journeys,” notes Patty Mashir, Executive Director of Futures and Options. “Futures and Options is beyond excited to work with ArtsConnection to empower OnTRaC students to acquire essential work and life skill.”

Taking place during the spring 2019 semester, OnTRaC is open to NYC public high school students grades 10-12. Applications can be found on the ArtsConnection Teen Programs website.