Braven Partners with Northern Illinois University with Fully Virtual Programming

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Joe King
Northern Illinois University

Kasia Kalata

A new partnership between Northern Illinois University (NIU) in Dekalb, IL and Braven, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago but with sites across the country is helping promising college students on a path to economic mobility, will offer students a two-part career-accelerating experience. Upon completion, participants (called Fellows) will have developed the skills, confidence, experiences, and social capital to land a strong first job or enter graduate school after college graduation.

“We are excited to partner with Braven to provide additional career support to NIU students to close any existing equity gaps,” said NIU President Lisa Freeman. “This partnership will help propel our incredibly talented students, especially those who come from low-income backgrounds, on the path from college to strong first jobs. It will help prepare our scholars to thrive in 21st-century workplaces.”

The Braven experience begins with a hybrid 3-credit course (UNIV 301), which is open to all NIU sophomores and juniors. While the course is open to all undergraduate students, both NIU and Braven view this opportunity as something that will be especially beneficial for students who are a part of initiatives like the Huskie Pledge Program. Students, who Braven calls Fellows, complete weekly online modules on Braven’s online platform and then apply that content through weekly virtual Learning Labs in a cohort of 5-8 peers led by a volunteer professional, called a Leadership Coach. Fellows complete assignments to grow their leadership in five professional competencies: operating and managing, problem solving, working in teams, networking and communicating, and self-driven leading.

Upon completion, Fellows receive additional opportunities to develop leadership and career-readiness skills, engage in an enduring professional network, and stay on track to securing strong internships and jobs. These optional post-course activities include engagements such as: 1) the Professional Mentor Program, which provides some students a 15-week 1:1 mentor in their desired field as they get closer to the time of the job search, 2) access to Braven’s bi-weekly jobs blast which shares internship and job opportunities, and 3) one-off professional development and networking events.

“According to economist Raj Chetty, Chicago faces the widest racial gap in economic mobility among major American cities,” said Aimée Eubanks Davis, founder & CEO of Braven. “Given Braven and NIU both have deep roots in the Chicagoland area, together in partnership with career services we can help ensure more talented young people are on their paths to the American promise and that they’re creating wealth for themselves and generations to come.”

By the third year of the partnership, 1,000 NIU students will be served annually.

For more information about Braven, visit

About Braven
Founded in 2013, Braven empowers promising, underrepresented young people—first-generation college students, students from low-income backgrounds, and students of color—with the skills, confidence, experiences, and networks necessary to transition from college to strong first jobs. Braven is embedded within large public universities and partners with employers to build cutting-edge career education into the undergraduate experience for low-income and first-generation college goers and provides students with a network of supporters and a sense of belonging. Braven Fellows are persisting in college and achieving exciting levels of internship and job attainment. For more information about Braven, visit

About NIU
Northern Illinois University is a student-centered, nationally recognized public research university, with expertise that benefits its region and spans the globe in a wide variety of fields, including the sciences, humanities, arts, business, engineering, education, health and law. Through its main campus in DeKalb, Illinois, and education centers for students and working professionals in Chicago, Naperville, Oregon and Rockford, NIU offers more than 100 areas of study while serving a diverse and international student body.