College Summit and the King Center Charter School join the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the College Knowledge Challenge, a $2.5 million fund to develop innovative apps on Facebook that will help students apply to, attend, and stay in college.

The College Knowledge Challenge is a competitive grant initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to award $2.5 million for Facebook applications that make the college-going process more transparent, collaborative, and easy to navigate for low-income and first generation students.  By linking with Facebook, the Challenge seeks to drive creative apps that utilize the unique capabilities of and student interest in the world’s largest social network.The Challenge is open to for-profit and non-profit organizations from any field of expertise.  Successful applicants will be granted $50,000 – $100,000 depending on the size and scope of their project.  Once a project is admitted to the program and begins development, applicants will receive 40% of the funds; subsequent funding will be dependent upon adequate progress toward the product described in the proposal. The College Knowledge Challenge will not take equity, ownership of intellectual property rights, or require revenue share from the funded projects.

College Knowledge Timeline

We are seeking solutions that show strong potential for being addressed by personalized, web-based technology solutions that support the goal of all students graduating from high school ready for college or career, and being prepared to complete a postsecondary degree or certificate with value in the workplace.  A primary objective of the Challenge is to move college support tools from simple websites that focus on information aggregation and basic FAQs to adaptive tools that provide students with personalized, actionable strategies for navigating the path through college.Effective solutions should also capitalize on U.S. young adults’ intense use of social networking sites (SNS) and exploit the fact that information shared through Facebook is disseminated faster and wider than research shared offline.  Research shows that the majority of teens have experienced positive outcomes from SNS use, making Facebook particularly well suited to helping low-income teens find, use, and share the innovative, personalized apps funded through this challenge.Developers should respond with technology solutions that support high school students and / or students currently enrolled in college (especially community college).  Acceptable solutions will address one or more of the three areas proven to be roadblocks to success for students at both types of institutions.

Successful apps will address one or more of the top three roadblocks by:

  • Helping students build, test, and implement personal academic pathways that grow out of college-career aspirations and are supported by informed decision making.
  • Helping students build social capital and a college-going peer group.
  • Rectifying information asymmetries in college admissions, financial aid, and college selection processes that disadvantage low-income and first generation students.

Judging criteria.  The apps in submitted proposals must:

  • Represent an innovative approach that is responsive to one or more of the top 3 roadblocks facing low-income students in getting to and through college.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the college-going process and the needs, habits, and practices of low-income and first-generations students.
  • Deliver an intuitive, user-friendly interface that provides information AND coaches the student toward college-oriented actions associated with positive educational outcomes.
  • Take full advantage of the potential for social engagement where appropriate.
  • Produce applications that are broadly accessible to low-income and first-generation college students through the applications’ content, approach, pricing, and distribution models.
  • Present an idea and a plan for development that can be realistically implemented and delivered in a high-quality fashion within the allowable timeframe.

Winners will be required to provide data and reporting on app development progress toward plan milestones and app usage.


To view an overview of the college access and persistence marketplace along with an opportunity map highlighting key hurdles, please see the attached presentations.  Webinars answering questions about the Challenge and the college access and persistence landscape are also posted here:


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.  In developing countries, it focuses  on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.  In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people – especially those with the fewest resources – have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.  Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr. under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet.  The Gates Foundation is a sponsor of the College Knowledge Challenge.

College Summit

Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Washington, DC, College Summit is a national nonprofit that serves more than 50,000 students annually in 180 partner high schools in low-income communities in 15 states. College Summit offers curricula and technology to guide students through postsecondary planning and the college admissions process. The organization partners with high schools to examine their data and use it to drive improvement in college-going rates. A linchpin of the approach is leveraging the power of peer influence to build a culture in high schools where going to college is the expectation, not the exception.  College Summit is partnering with KCCS and Redpoint to serve as intermediary on the College Knowledge Challenge.


Founded in 2004 and located in Menlo Park, CA, Facebook is the world’s premier online social networking platform. With 955 million active users, Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.  Facebook is a sponsor of the College Knowledge Challenge.

The King Center Charter School

The KCCS Middle School in Buffalo, NY is being designed and implemented by Dr. Keith Frome to provide a college-going culture for early adolescents. Dr. Frome is also the co-founder of College Summit. The KCCS elementary school is the first and oldest charter school in Buffalo. The school partners with parents and the community to ensure a caring, student-centered environment of high expectations and academic excellence supported by evidence-based curriculum taught by a deeply committed and highly qualified staff.  KCCS is the primary grantee and is partnering with College Summit and Redpoint to serve as intermediary on the College Knowledge Challenge.

Redpoint Education

Headquartered in Richmond, VA, Redpoint was founded by Sean Murray to provide education management consulting. For 8 years, Sean served as Vice President of Operations for College Summit. Redpoint is partnering with College Summit and KCCS to serve as intermediary on the College Knowledge Challenge.