C.O.C.O.A House was established in 1996 by Union College Student Rachel Graham. Graham, who grew up in Schenectady, understood the challenges many local children faced, and she sought to create a program that would promote academic success and expanded opportunities for at-risk youth. The program started out small, operating out of the basement of a local church. Over 25 years C.O.C.O.A House has become a full-fledged after-school tutoring and enrichment program, operating out of its own facility in the Hamilton Hills section of Schenectady.
Today, members of Union’s student body and members of the Schenectady community work together to run the C.O.C.O.A House program. There are over 80 students who are trained C.O.C.O.A House volunteers. In addition, C.O.C.O.A House is directed by a community activist, Founder of Save Our Streets Inc. and Executive Director Will Rivas. Along with him, a student Executive Board (E-Board) oversees programs, sites, events, and finances of C.O.C.O.A House as well. On the college campus, there is a C.O.C.O.A Club that works closely with the organization.
In the past, the organization's focus was tutoring, and while tutoring underserved youth is still a big part of the C.O.C.O.A House's mission, the emphasis has shifted. Our present leader has encouraged the C.O.C.O.A House volunteers to see themselves as mentors — trusted, caring adults who support youth in all aspects of their lives, not just school.
C.O.C.O.A House is a 501(c) (3) classified non profit organization.