Fellow Led Courses


High School Equivalency Preparation

The Work First Foundation empowers adults through education. Education is a crucial stepping stone towards valuable employment. The Work First Fellowship allows fellows the opportunity to make direct impact in the classroom. Throughout the year long fellowship, adults are connected with anywhere from 100-400 adults seeking to gain their High School Equivalency Diploma (HSE) or GED. Fellows convey patience, persistence and passion to their students as they work together to meet common goals.

Kessie Petit-Frere introducing social studies to her class.

Kessie Petit-Frere introducing social studies to her class.

Working with adults provides fellows the perspective of what drives adults to go back to school. Many recognize education as a first step towards gaining employment. Others, understand they cannot achieve upward mobility in their work space with out polished math and writing skills. The most motivated students decided they want to attend secondary education and plan on applying to college after school. Many students are also parents, and they are back in school so they cab help their children with school work. Whatever the motivation, fellows work tirelessly to help their students meet their goals. 

English As A Second Language

New York City is one of the most diverse places on the planet. The city's residents speak 800 different languages. English, however, can be a necessary requirement to gain employment and confidence in English speaking work settings. The Work First Fellows recognize the challenges immigrants and non-English speaking adults face in gaining employment. The fellows work with adults to work on their English speaking and writing! 


ESL Effectivness

Julie Kozikova (Fellow 2015-2016) reviewed the current need for ESL classes in New York City and tested the effectiveness of the Work First Fellows ESL courses. 

Diversity in the Classroom

In one class, students came from 6 different countries and spoke a variety of different languages. Among those students on a third graduated from high school.  Check out this New York Times article further explaining the diversity of languages in New York City. 


We saw progress from every single students at both the beginner and advanced level classes. In our beginner level course, some students scored below 30 percent on an entry level exam, but after 6 weeks their progress improved tremendously. The Advanced level courses start at a higher bar, but students leave with an improved writing ability and sense of confidence in their English speaking ability. 

Soft Skills

Soft Skills are identified as an important step in building interpersonal skills, time management, fiscal responsibility and work expectations. Soft skill courses also provide fellows with the opportunity to coach resume and cover letter writing, as well as the most effective tactics in online job search.

A Fellows presentation on ATS systems and improving resumes 


The wide variety of subject manner and large class sizes allow Fellows to be creative in their approaches to hit upon major ideas. Where some courses are focused on the detail oriented approach to crafting a job-specific resume, others touch on more abstract concepts like conflict resolution. Clients participate in soft skills by sharing their experiences of success and struggle, making the soft skill classroom one of the most important classroom experiences. 


Fellows are encouraged to research and track the trends in hiring managers and relay the most effective strategies to getting hired. Clients are encourage to redraft their resumes and cover letters and seek assistants from fellows. 


Occasionally fellows will test new topics to gauge the interest and importance of certain areas with clients. Current fellows have run workshops on HTML/CSS, self efficacy, and nutrition. These lessons help fellows provide important feedback to policy experts, and work force development professionals on how clients respond to a variety of lesson types.   

Computer Literacy

To navigate the digital divide of both poor communities and the elderly, Work First Fellows provide hands on training in Computer Literacy. Fellows designed a Computer Literacy training regiment that guides both the beginners and the more intermediate computer users. Clients with more advanced skills are also assisted if they pursue coding!



Clients looking to improve typing speed test on day one. They then follow an online module based learning curricula to improve their speed scores. At the end of both the first and second week the clients test to see their improvement. 

                Fellows help clients master Microsoft Office and learn the fundamentals of both Word and Excel through practice exercises and one-on-one assistance. Clients take an employee test both on their first and last day to recognize their improvement. 

                Clients looking to understand how to research and navigate the internet, face a series of exercises that allow clients to learn how to find and send emails, search for jobs they are qualified for, and lastly work collaboratively on Google Drive Projects. Clients are measured on via survey.


Fellows designed a computer literacy blog to provide resources for clients to use at home. The website aggregates different training modules, reading material and practice exercises and has received more than 500 views since its inception in Fall 2016. 


Fellows researched the effect computer illiteracy has on their clients. They found through qualitative research that students are not confident in their ability to become proficient in computer use. The same project found that job developers find candidates with some computer experience more employable, regardless of the position, than candidates with no computer experience. The fellows participated in placing welfare recipients into Microsoft training and tracked their confidence and capabilities after training from Microsoft professionals.