Who We Are
Future Now was created in 1998 on the campus of Bronx Community College to promote the educational and vocational development of disenfranchised young adults. The program offers free GED and vocational training classes, student counseling and career exploration, along with college preparation and enrollment services to students ages 17 to 24. Students must have at minimum an 8th grade reading level to enroll at Future Now. Most students are engaged in classes and other activities 25 hours a week. This level of intensity allows students to see progress relatively quickly, which helps motivate them to persist in their studies.
Future Now enrolls nearly 500 students annually.About 65% of them have been involved in the court system, reflecting the program’s founding mission and on-going recruitment efforts on Rikers Island. Approximately 700 Future Now graduates are currently in college. When the program began, its founding director, Elizabeth Payamps, hired several college students from Bronx Community College to serve as tutors and peer mentors. They helped the GED students with homework and filling out college applications, and even called them when they were absent from class. Payamps and her lone staff member, Mark Bodrick, provided basic orientation and supervision.
While Future Now achieved striking success in helping its students earn a GED, Payamps grew concerned that so few GED graduates were succeeding in college. In 2006, a Bronx Community College admissions officer suggested that Future Now form a student club where its graduates could offer each other support and encouragement to complete college. At the same time, several alumni led by Hipolito Rosario and William Ruiz approached Payamps, wanting to do something together to address the same issue. Payamps assigned a new member of her staff with a social work background to work with the students to establish Club IMPACT (Improving My Performance At College Today). The club asked all GED students to join and kept in close contact with IMPACT as they transitioned into college. A number of the club’s more active members, with the support of the Future Now staff, became peer mentors.
The potential of peer mentors soon became apparent to Payamps and her team when Hipolito Rosario took over a college prep class from a paid instructor and got significantly better results with the students (all 12 of them went on to graduate from Bronx CommunityCollege). With the early success of Club IMPACT encouraging the Future Now staff, Payamps and Bronx Community College administrator David Hernandez approached the Robin Hood Foundation to seek support to formalize and expand the PM component. Future Now was awarded the grant and initiated an enhanced PM program in 2007. Within a few years, as the success of peer mentoring grew, the Future Now program became known to many (including Payamps) as Future Now/IMPACT (“FN/IMPACT”).