Did you know for every 100 low-income students who start college, only 15 will earn a bachelor’s degree within five years? The Intel Foundation is funding a fellowship for a social entrepreneur who is using technology to dramatically increase that number.
Yesenia, the first person in her family to enter college, struggled to fit in at San Francisco State University, failed her freshman math class, and considered dropping out. Fortunately, she had a coach from Beyond 12, a nonprofit that aims to break the cycle of poverty by increasing the number of low-income, first-generation students who graduate from college.
“Thousands of low-income students embark on their college journeys believing that they’re prepared for the road ahead,” says Alexandra Bernadotte, Beyond 12 Founder and CEO, but only 15 percent will earn a bachelor’s degree within five years.
The Intel Foundation is supporting Beyond 12 with technology advice and a fellowship for Bernadotte through Ashoka, an organization that helps launch social entrepreneurs.
Beyond 12 works to keep students in college by tracking, connecting, and coaching, says Bernadotte. The organization has built a unique technology platform that tracks data about how students fare—academically, socially, and financially—once they enter college. High schools and colleges can use the data to improve how they prepare and support students. A Beyond 12 Facebook app connects college students with others of similar backgrounds, and with resources such as financial aid and budgeting and job-search tools. Struggling students are paired with Beyond 12 coaches who help them navigate campus life.
Beyond 12’s combination of technology and service “allows us to impact not just the kids we’re working with, but the educational system as a whole,” says Bernadotte. The organization started in 2009 and is now tracking the progress of over 20,000 students and coaching 2,000 students at 180 colleges.
Yesenia is an example of Beyond 12’s success. Her coach helped her turn things around, and she is now in her third year of college. Says Bernadotte, “Yesenia may be the first person in her family to graduate from college, but she certainly won’t be the last.”
Partnering with higher education to empower professors, invest in students, and cultivate entrepreneurs and innovators.
Alexandra Bernadette uses technology, data, and social media to enable greater success for low-income and first-generation college students.