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Education and Academic Support / College Readiness and Retention

CollegePoint Initiative: Bloomberg Philanthropies/Heckscher Partnership

In 2016, the foundation continued its collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies to design and launch a virtual college advising program, CollegePoint, which promotes college access and completion for high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students. It provides support and guidance on the college application and financial aid process to directly help as many as 75,000 students apply to, enroll in, and ultimately graduate from top schools. In order to be eligible for CollegePoint, students must have standardized test scores in the 90th percentile or higher, a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, and family income of $80,000 or less.

The initiative also engages college and university presidents and leading experts, in partnership with the Aspen Institute and ITHAKA S+R, spurring changes in higher education policies and practices to enable more students to enroll and graduate. The overarching goal is for half of high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students — up from one-third today — to enroll in the nation’s top 265 colleges and universities, prioritizing schools with high graduation rates and low student debt.

The model is intended to achieve broad impact through collaboration. Leading program partners include: College Advising Corps, College Possible, ScholarMatch, and Matriculate (each of which will contribute to a squad of well-trained college access advisors), as well as the College Board, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, New Profit Inc., America Achieves, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Khan Academy, and the Aspen Institute. The virtual college advising partners have recruited, selected, and trained more than 30 full-time advisors and 400 college students as part-time advisors. These advisors served 8,300 students in the Class of 2016, and are on track to serve more than 12,150 in the Class of 2017.

Two leading professors in the college success field, Dr. Ben Castleman (University of Virginia) and Dr. Eric Bettinger (Stanford University), are researching the impact of interventions to measure “virtual advising outcomes” and enable sharing of successful strategies among school systems, counselors, other nonprofit organizations, and education leaders across the country.

Following year one of the initiative, preliminary results demonstrate that the coalition of partners has positively impacted college application behavior and college admission outcomes for the intended population of students; notably, over 80 percent of students in the Class of 2015 cohort were accepted to at least one school in the top 120 (as ranked by Barron’s) and 67 percent were accepted to at least one school in the top 80, compared to 52 percent of control group students.