Our Purpose

About On Point for College

On Point for College is a nationally-recognized college attainment program. It was founded in 1999 to help first-generation students gain access to college. In the years since, it has expanded its offerings to include college success (completion) support, career planning and placement support, and most recently, support with non-college post-secondary credential attainment. It has grown from serving only Syracuse, New York, to serving nearly all of Central New York, including Cayuga, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego Counties. On Point also maintains active partnerships with two New York City-based agencies, Goddard-Riverside Community Center and New Settlement Apartments, which allows it to better support students attending college in the downstate region.

On Point services are 100% free and available to students of all ages, backgrounds, and educational levels. On Point specializes in helping high school students and recent graduates, as well as those who have been away from school for a while or who have earned GED or HSE credentials. On Point also has extensive experience working with populations who may face additional challenges including, but not limited to, refugee or immigrant status, dependent children, experience with the foster care system, a history of court involvement, and housing insecurity.

Our Mission

We break down barriers that prevent young, underserved individuals from achieving education and career success.

Our Vision

To transform communities by making college, training and career success a reality for those who face great obstacles.

Our History

1991 – At the request of her daughter, On Point for College founder, Ginny Donohue, helps her first student apply to and prepare for college.

1999 – After eight years of informally helping students gain access to college, Ginny Donohue leaves her corporate career to found On Point for College from the trunk of her car.

2000 – On Point holds its first staff meeting at Burger King and the inaugural class of 26 students enrolls in college.

2001 – On Point moves into its first office – a single room at Catholic Charities. The first On Point graduate, Christopher Scott, earns his associate degree in computer information services from Onondaga Community College.

2003 – Starsky Robinson becomes On Point’s first student to each a bachelor’s degree from SUNY at Albany.

2004 – Andrea Lawson and Terrence Byrd-EL become the first students to complete the entire college process – from application through graduation – with On Point’s help when they graduate from the College at Brockport and SUNY at Albany.

2006 – Marcus Smith becomes On Point’s first Ivy League and master’s degree graduate when he earns a degree in health administration from Cornell University. In 2009, Marcus would become the first graduate to be hired as an On Point advisor.

2007 – the 100th On Point for College graduate earns their degree.

2008 – On Point begins offering career counseling services and student and South Sudanese “Lost Boy” Lopez Lomong carries the flag of the United States at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

2012 - On Point opens an office in Utica, NY and partners with agencies in New York City.

2013 – In recognition for their work towards advancing higher education in Central New York, On Point leadership is invited to meet then-President Barack Obama. Danny Essadiq earns On Point’s first juris doctorate when he graduates from Syracuse University College of Law.

2014 – On Point Celebrates 15 years of changing lives degree by degree and the 1000th On Point for College graduate earns their degree. Dimitrie Vaughn earns On Point’s first Ph.D. in chemistry from Penn State.

2016 – Ginny Donohue steps down as Executive Director and On Point’s second employee, Samuel Rower, becomes its leader. Onondaga Community College and SUNY Oswego graduate Quindell Williams wins his first Emmy Award as a photojournalist for CNYCentral. He would eventually win two Emmy's before leaving the news industry to become a Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems (drone) teacher in the Syracuse City School District

2017 – On Point surpasses 2000 college graduates.

2018 – On Point Syracuse moves to a new office and expands its services to cover most of Central New York. Shanté White becomes On Point’s first medical doctor when she graduates from the University at Buffalo. Utica student and Hamilton College graduate Marquis Palmer becomes the first On Point student to be named recipient of both a Fulbright Award and a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

2019 – On Point celebrates twenty years of transforming lives and communities.

2020 – On Point pivots to online, successfully adapting traditionally in-person services to web-based outreach. Transitioning to digital outreach allows engagement with our students to increase by 51%. Hamilton College graduate Marquis Palmer does it again, this time winning the coveted Marshall Scholarship to study at SOAS University of London and the University of Cambridge.

2024 - On Point turns 25 and will surpass 4500 college graduates and 5500 college degrees.