Wednesday, October 2, 2013
New apps make college access and success easier for students, parents and educators

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WASHINGTON, DC (October 2, 2013) College Summit today launched 19 new online and mobile apps to help students get to and through college. Zombie College, a game that promotes a fun way of learning about the college access process; CollegeAbacus, a one-stop shop for comparing college pricing; and Career Connect, an app that links students with experts to answer questions about college and career paths are among the apps that became publicly available on the web, Facebook, Apple’s App Store, and Google Play. The apps can also be found on CollegeAppMap.org, a site that will aggregate the best in class college access and success apps.

Originally created for low income students to navigate the college process, the apps are essential tools for all families with college-bound students. All 19 apps released today are winners of the College Knowledge Challenge, a competitive grant initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by College Summit to award $2.5 million for developing Facebook, online and mobile applications that make the college-going process more transparent, collaborative and easy to navigate for low-income and first generation students and their families. The majority of the apps are free or available at minimal cost.

“This is an important new category of apps. The path to college is neither easy nor intuitive – especially for a student whose parents, siblings and friends have not pursued it. These apps provide all students – no matter their circumstances – with a simple, step-by-step approach through the college application process,” said Dr. Keith Frome, Co-founder of College Summit, Executive Director of the King Center Charter School and the co-leader of the College Knowledge Challenge

As an original sponsor of the College Knowledge Challenge, Facebook provided technical assistance to the developers as they engineered their apps for Facebook’s platform. In addition, the Challenge provided developers with ongoing input and feedback from current high school seniors from schools in low income communities, including those who are participating in College Summit’s college access program. College Summit is a national nonprofit that creates a corps of students at low income high schools who are given intensive training to use their influence to lead their peers to and through college.

“Postsecondary education presents more risks and more reward than ever before. These new apps help students take advantage of the tremendous lifetime earnings that come with a college degree and avoid accumulating too much burdensome debt,” added J.B. Schramm, Founder of College Summit. “Bottom line: parents and their kids need to be smart shoppers and this technology gives them the tools to be discerning consumers.”


Tuesday, April 9, 2013
A Team of 5 College Summit Students Compete in HackEd 2.0 at Facebook to Build Their Own App for College-Going Support


Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
The 21 Winners Of The Facebook, Gates Foundation Education App Contest Are Making College Easier

Tech Crunch LogoBack in September, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a contest that aimed to challenge entrepreneurs and app developers to build awesome, innovative education apps on Facebook’s platform. The so-called College Knowledge Challenge kicked off with an EdTech hackathon co-hosted by the Gates Foundation and Facebook, located at the social network’s headquarters in Menlo Park.

As Josh wrote at the time, the contest called on developers of all ages to create apps that “build pathways to college, build peer groups for in-coming college students and assist with college admission and securing financial aid.”

The co-hosts distributed $18K in hackathon prizes in September, with the winners of the overall challenge vying to earn one of the $100,000 grand prizes. Today, The Gates Foundation and Facebook announced the 17 startups and apps that will be taking home those grand prizes. [For more, see below.]

But first, while social technologies are certainly a fundamental part of the ongoing seachange currently taking place in education, one might ask, why encourage developers and entrepreneurs to build for Facebook? Instead, it might seem as if we should be encouraging builders to focus on disrupting archaic K-12 infrastructures, encouraging WiFi support and penetration in schools, helping low-income students to smart, digital devices and Internet access and push computer science and technology education into the core curriculum of our schools.

To that point, Gates Foundation Deputy Director of Education Stacey Childress said at the time that “social networking sites are emerging as critical platforms for students — and low-income students especially — to allow them to build social capital outside the boundaries of their neighborhoods. Facebook contribues not only to academic success but their persistence as well … They feel more connected and are more likely to stay in school.”

In turn, technology has proven its ability to democratize the access and distribution of information and Elliot Schrage, VP of Public Policy at Facebook added that Facebook’s Open Graph sharing system reduces friction and gives young people the opportunity to have their content or experiences go viral. Bringing social networking and education together, he said, has the power to use sharing to transform the way students live their lives and the way they learn.

The Challenge focuses on developing apps for low-income and first-generation college students in particular, and many of the contest’s winners seek to capitalize on a growing trend within education technology: The personalization of the learning process, especially within the framework of education targeted at low-income and first-generation college students.

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September 27, 2012
Facebook, Gates Foundation and College Summit Launch Initiative

New College Knowledge Challenge Announced at Hackathon
Launching today at Facebook headquarters with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, College Summit and the King Center Charter School will kick off the “College Knowledge Challenge,” a competitive funding initiative that will award approximately 30 grants to the best Facebook applications for helping students get to and succeed in college.

A $2.5 million investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds the College Knowledge Challenge competition to attract the best app developers to create free or low-cost web and smartphone applications that help students, parents, and educators in low-income communities navigate the college-going process.

“College Summit has been working with students and school leaders for almost 20 years,” said J.B. Schramm, Founder and CEO of College Summit. “The College Knowledge Challenge is an opportunity to apply educational insight with cutting edge, social media technology to create new ways to help students reach their college and career goals.”

Students from College Summit Northern California partner high schools and college students who are alumni of the program will be advising these developers during the competition. Speakers will include Schramm and Keith Frome, College Summit co-founder and Founding Head of Middle School at the King Center Charter School.

“First generation and low-income families typically do not have access to the information, coaching, and support needed to navigate the college-going process,” said Frome. “A platform of electronic tools dedicated to confronting and solving the obstacles to postsecondary navigation and success is an exciting potential opportunity for all students, regardless of their economic circumstances.”


WASHINGTON – September 27, 2012
College Summit Launches Competition to Create “College Knowledge” Apps

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation $2.5 million investment funds RFP to attract the best Web and smartphone app developers to create tools to attract and keep more students in college Launching at Facebook headquarters with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, College Summit and the King Center Charter School will kick off the “College Knowledge Challenge,” a competitive funding initiative that will award approximately 30 grants to the best Facebook applications for helping students get to and succeed in college.

A $2.5 million investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds the College Knowledge Challenge competition to attract the best app developers to create free or low-cost web and smartphone applications that help students, parents, and educators in low-income communities navigate the college-going process.

“College Summit has been working with students and school leaders for almost 20 years,” said J.B. Schramm, Founder and CEO of College Summit. “The College Knowledge Challenge is an opportunity to apply educational insight with cutting edge, social media technology to create new ways to help students reach their college and career goals.”

To kick off the College Knowledge Challenge, a daylong “hackathon,” or coding competition, will take place at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The hackathon will bring together top app developers who will compete to deliver the most dynamic prototypes. The hackathon will serve as the launch of the RFP process, which will run from Sept. 27 through Nov. 16th at collegeknowledgechallenge.org. The RFP is open to anyone who would like to apply. The winning apps will be the best examples of using technology to target young people where they spend their time—online and communicating via social media—to help many more students prepare for, get into, and succeed in postsecondary education.

The apps will address challenges students typically face on the postsecondary path, including finding an academically supportive peer group, navigating the college admissions, financial aid, and matching processes. The apps may also encourage students to see themselves as college graduates and developing personal pathways to graduation.

Students from College Summit Northern California partner high schools and college students who are alumni of the program will be advising these developers during the competition. Speakers will include Schramm and Keith Frome, College Summit co-founder and Founding Head of Middle School at the King Center Charter School.
“First generation and low-income families typically do not have access to the information, coaching, and support needed to navigate the college-going process,” said Frome. “A platform of electronic tools dedicated to confronting and solving the obstacles to postsecondary navigation and success is an exciting potential opportunity for all students, regardless of their economic circumstances.”

Investment funds will be distributed in grants of between $50,000 and $100,000, depending on the scope of their project. The winning applicants will be judged by a team from College Summit, the King Center Charter School, Facebook, and the Gates Foundation, as well as a panel of nationally known experts in education and technology. Approximately 30 winners will be funded. The apps will then be launched on Facebook as well as other platforms. All apps will be linked to Facebook in some way in order to leverage the unique capabilities and student interest in the world’s largest social network.

“One of the foundation’s priorities is unlocking the power of innovation and technology to improve learning,” said Stacey Childress, Deputy Director, College Ready, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who leads the K-12 next generation learning team at the foundation. “By supporting the College Knowledge Challenge, we’re investing in the combined energy and talent of developers, students, and educators to create web-scale tools aimed at improving college-going and retention rates.”

College Summit and the King Center, together with sub-grantee Redpoint Education, will serve as the team to ensure successful completion of the tool suite. College Summit is the national nonprofit that raises college-going and success rates by training high school principals, teachers, and the most influential students in lower-income communities to build college and career culture. Starting with four students in a low-income housing development almost twenty years ago, today College Summit works with 50,000 9th-12th graders annually in 12 states.

The King Center Charter School is the first and oldest charter school in Buffalo, NY and has been providing rigorous and supportive academic opportunities to its families for more than a decade. Redpoint was founded by Sean Murray to provide education management consulting following an eight-year career as Vice President of Operations at College Summit.

For more information visit www.CollegeKnowledgeChallenge.org College Summit was founded in the basement of a low-income housing development by a teen center director, J.B. Schramm, who saw how college transformed the lives of young people in the neighborhood, and how peer influence pushed some students off the college path, and spurred other students to thrive. From that modest experience, College Summit has grown to serving 50,000 students annually in 170 partner high schools in 12 states by providing a comprehensive system for improving college-going and success rates. Learn more at www.collegesummit.org.