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.
- Decisions that students make early in their academic careers have lasting effects on secondary and post-secondary success. For example, success in high school algebra is a strong predictor of post-secondary success; failing to take or succeed at algebra can have a strong, negative impact on available pathways and a student’s success in higher education and / or the workforce.
- Providing students with career advising is shown to improve understanding of careers, career decision making, and career adjustment (Whitson, Sexton, & Lasoff, 1998), but investigations of this topic are not usually undertaken with community college students.
- Research shows that role models, particularly those of the same ethnicity, have a strong impact on minority teens’ aspirations and decision making. Although role models have been widely employed in mentoring programs, there are few online resources that provide interesting, relevant information on potential life trajectories to low-income teens.
- Goal setting, planning, and tracking tools are increasingly being used to help individuals track and meet goals in areas such as personal finance (Mint.com), fitness (Fitbit, Nike+), and internet marketing (Quantcast). These types of tools could leverage big data to match students’ interests and aspirations to real options and support students staying on personalized pathways through college.
- Helping students build social capital and a college-going peer group.
- Peer interaction has been shown to lead to motivation, engagement, information exchange, and reinforcement of peer norms and values (Ryan, 2000); however, college-going remains a largely individual process that fails to take advantage of the social capital embedded in peer networks or to expand students’ peer networks.
- Research shows that friends’ plans were the best predictor of 4-year college enrollment among students who were low-income, African American or Hispanic, and from an urban high school (Sokatch, 2006); therefore, supporting students in joining college-going peer groups is critical.
- Commuter and 2-year colleges interested in increasing student retention must find ways to increase student engagement via academic activities. This includes creating academic communities of learning and finding ways to make students feel connected to the college (Braxton, Hirschy and McClendon, 2004).
- Social media is emerging as a critical tool for helping students build social capital and leverage their social networks to improve academic success. Facebook use has been shown to contribute to increased social capital in college students and to positively correlate with persistence (Ellison et al., 2011).
- Rectifying information asymmetries in college admissions, financial aid, and college selection processes that disadvantage low-income and first generation students.
- The college admissions process requires students to individually identify and evaluate potential colleges across a range of factors, including likelihood of admission, financial aid potential, social and cultural fit, using high-level, institution-focused information such as median SAT score and campus setting. Low-income students are found to consistently undermatch in their college application and selection process due to a lack of understanding about the college admissions and financial aid processes (Simmons, Omari Scott 2010). Providing personal assistance in the financial aid application process has shown to have a significant, positive impact on college-going rates (H&R Block grant).
- The admissions and financial process advantages colleges through information asymmetries. Institutions receive detailed personal information about each student’s background and finances, use sophisticated statistical models to determine admissions, and can evaluate each student against the entire applicant pool. This allows institutions to evaluate students against a range of all possible students, while it prevents students from evaluating admissions and financial offers against the range of all possible offers.
- Web based data aggregation tools have rectified information asymmetries between buyers and sellers in other industries, including mortgages and loans (Lending Tree), home buying (Zillow), and used car purchasing (Kelly Blue Book, Auto Trader). The college admissions process is ripe for this type of disruption.
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.
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.
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.