Career Awareness Program
Self confidence. Motivation to excel. Problem-solving, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills. The knowledge that reading, writing, and communicating effectively are the keys to reaching their goals. These are just a few of the important achievements that participants take away from their three to ten years in The Fresh Air Fund's Career Awareness Program and at Camp Mariah.
Camp Mariah is named in honor of Board member Mariah Carey for her generous support.
Learn more about signing your child up for the Career Awareness Program →
Apply to work at Camp Mariah →
Who are “career campers?”
The Career Awareness Program was formed to expand the education and career options of New York City adolescents, in grades 7 to 9 and through college, while teaching them that the decisions they make today will have a direct impact on their tomorrow.
To sign up for the Career Awareness Program, students interview during their sixth grade year. The program looks for children who are enthusiastic about academics, determined to work hard for their future and excited to take part in activities similar to school. If accepted, students begin their commitment to the program by attending The Fresh Air Fund’s Camp Mariah in the summer and continue in the program year-round from September to June.
Grades 7 through 9 – A Three-Year Commitment
Career campers make a three-year commitment to participate in educational, recreational, and camping experiences in New York City and at Camp Mariah, where they learn to face challenges and follow career paths that are in line with their skills and talents.
The classes, workshops, and activities campers participate in at Camp Mariah each summer, and for one weekend each fall and spring, open their eyes to the wide range of career possibilities available. Career Awareness Program participants are also given opportunities to learn outside of camp about education, training, employment, and life choices.
During these three years, Career Awareness students participate in six ways:
- Summer at Camp Mariah – Three and a half weeks living at Camp Mariah with classes that enhance knowledge, discover new interests and explore career options. (Required.)
- Camping Weekends – Two follow-up weekends at Camp Mariah, one in October or November and one in April, designed to challenge students to think critically and creatively. (Required.)
- Job shadowings during the school year – Career awareness students are exposed to a wide variety of jobs at places like hospitals, newspapers, restaurants, and law firms. (Required.)
- A one-day career fair in New York City – Guest speakers detail the educational requirements, job skills, and personal qualities needed to succeed in various fields. (Required.)
- Tutoring – Students are invited to take advantage of volunteer tutors at The Fresh Air Fund's Manhattan office on Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays in ten-week cycles. (Optional.)
- Secondary Schools Connections – Volunteers and a full-time Secondary Schools Coordinator help career campers and their families understand high school options (public, private, parochial, specialized and boarding), offer after-school tutoring sessions and individual meetings, and help youngsters prepare for high school applications and exams, like The New York City Specialized Science High School Test. (Optional.)
Grade 10 through College Graduation – College Connections
All students who complete their three-year commitment during seventh to ninth grades are invited to join College Connections, providing them with programming and support through to their college graduation. Weekly meetings with mentors are designed to help participants get into college, find funding, adapt to college life and ultimately graduate. Members are also invited to a weekend in the fall and one in the spring at Camp Mariah.
College Connections assists students by:
- Guiding 10th, 11th and 12th graders through the process of selecting, enrolling, financially preparing for and transitioning into a successful college career at their school of choice.
- Educating parents and students about the sources of financial support available to them and connecting them with appropriate financing opportunities.
- Supporting and mentoring students throughout their four years of college so they can attain their degree by:
- Pairing each student with a mentor who checks in regularly;
- Having seasonal meetings with college students during their school breaks.
- Training The Fresh Air Fund’s cadre of quality mentors from New York City’s corporate community, many of whom have existing mentor-mentee relationships with Fresh Air students, for this next level of commitment.
- Providing SAT and other test preparation courses.
- Organizing college visits and tours.
- Providing financial literacy and planning workshops to help students manage their money.
- Connecting college students with extracurricular opportunities that will prepare them for post-college success.
- Encouraging students to complete community service hours as they learn about citizenship and transition into adulthood.
Information for prospective applicants