Bloomberg Philanthropies and Matriculate announced an expansion of their partnership to provide free, personal “near-peer” college advising to high-achieving students from lower-income families through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ CollegePoint initiative. Beginning with students graduating high school in 2023, CollegePoint will focus exclusively on empowering first-generation college students to enroll and graduate from the nation’s top colleges and universities. Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel, also announced generous support to help Matriculate extend the impact of the CollegePoint initiative and serve more students nationally.
With recent data showing a national decline in college enrollment and that qualified, low-income, first-generation (students whose parents did not attend a four-year college or university) students are questioning the value and cost of a college education in greater numbers, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ken Griffin, and Matriculate are committed to helping ensure that high performing students in the U.S. have access to the best college guidance, financial aid information, and higher education opportunities regardless of their socio-economic background. With the right support and role models, these students can change the trajectory of their own lives and the lives of their families – which also provides tremendous benefits to our nation’s colleges, communities, and employers.
“As always, Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to following the data,” said Jenny Sharfstein Kane who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies college access and success work. “The data from the past several years clearly shows that near-peer college advising as part of CollegePoint has had significant impact in helping lower-income students go to the top schools they deserve to attend. We are excited to double down our support on Matriculate and serve even more deserving students across the country.”
“We are deeply grateful for these two transformative investments in Matriculate’s near-peer model. For years, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ tremendous support and partnership has made our advising work possible,” said Madeline Kerner, CEO and Co-founder of Matriculate. “We are so grateful to have Ken Griffin and the Citadel and Citadel Securities team coming on board to help deepen our impact, particularly during this critical time for communities experiencing the continued impact of COVID. We look forward to empowering students through virtual, near-peer advising, and in doing so, increasing access and equity in higher education.”
3,000 students graduating high school in 2023 will be advised through CollegePoint; increasing to 3,500 students graduating in 2024; and growing to 4,000 students graduating in 2025. Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $86 million to CollegePoint since its inception, including a new $12 million commitment to Matriculate over the next three years. Ken Griffin, Citadel, and Citadel Securities are committing $3 million in support over the next two years to Matriculate.
In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched CollegePoint, which through a coalition of non-profit partners – including standardized testing partners College Board and ACT, and advising partners Matriculate, College Advising Corps, College Possible, and ScholarMatch – provided the first-ever one-on-one college advising services via phone, text, email, and video chat at scale to high achieving, lower-income high school students over an average of 15 months. The goal was to increase the number of high-achieving, lower-income students who attend selective institutions from one-third of the total pool to one-half by 2020, a goal which was reached a year early in 2019. In the past eight years, CollegePoint has provided virtual advising to 63,000 talented students.
Now, in response to an ongoing evaluation of the initiative, College Advising at a National Scale: Experimental Evidence from the CollegePoint initiative, all CollegePoint students will be supported by Matriculate’s successful near-peer Advising Fellows: college students trained by Matriculate to connect remotely with high school juniors and seniors, providing them with the guidance, information, and peer modeling they need to navigate the complex college application process. Near-peer advisors understand their advisees in ways that adults cannot –offering a personal perspective and problem-solving techniques that they themselves may have used in their own application processes. Their support often gives students the confidence they need to apply to top, high-graduation rate colleges they thought were unattainable and the understanding that their eligibility for aid makes attending college financially realistic for their families.
A randomized controlled trial done as part of the College Advising at a National Scale evaluation measured the unique effects of CollegePoint and its four advising organizations on student enrollment outcomes. The trial showed that Matriculate, founded in 2014, generated significant effects, including a nearly 9 percent increase in students attending high graduation rate colleges, and a 24 percent increase in students attending the nation’s top 80 colleges (Barron’s 1 institutions). The evaluation also highlighted the positive impact CollegePoint has had supporting first-generation college students, causing Bloomberg Philanthropies to focus on assisting first-generation students exclusively moving forward – especially given the increasing danger of these students not attending college due to recent COVID-19-related financial and emotional hardships.
Low-income, first-generation college students account for 40 percent of the overall entering-college population in the U.S., but only account for one third of college graduates. They often lack personalized guidance about which institutions are a good match for their level of academic achievement and interests, accurate information about the real costs of these institutions and the financial aid that is available to them, and models of students like themselves who have successfully made the transition to top-performing colleges and universities.
Research shows that first-generation college students disproportionately enroll at less selective colleges, despite experiencing higher graduation rates at more selective colleges. The graduation rate for first-generation students at open-admission schools is below half the rate for non-first-generation students by a gap of 23 percentage points. Once enrolled in college, lower-income, first-generation students perform as well as their more affluent peers – and by “undermatching” may limit their academic and professional prospects.
“One-on-one advising from near-peers who are in college and who have overcome many of the same obstacles current high school seniors face can be an effective strategy to improve college access and success for first-generation students,” shared Ben Castleman, the Newton and Rita Meyers Associate Professor in the Economics of Education, and the Founder and Director of the Nudge4 Solutions Lab, at the University of Virginia. “Matriculate’s evidence-based model is a promising approach to scale peer mentoring to thousands of academically-talented first-generation students across the country.”
CollegePoint works with partners including the College Board and ACT to proactively reach out to high-achieving (distinguished by their scores on the PSAT, SAT, or ACT, or by excelling on a rigorous high school curriculum), lower-income (annual family income of $80,000 or less) high school students in their junior year or the summer before their senior year and invite them to receive free, one-on-one, virtual college advising. Once they are matched with one of nearly 1,000 Matriculate Advising Fellows, students will connect with their Advising Fellow via phone, email, video chat and text over the following months. Advising Fellows serve as guides in the application process as well as models of matriculation, having successfully enrolled in top colleges themselves. With their Advising Fellow’s support, each student maps out what they are looking for in a college or university, builds a list of colleges, and applies for scholarships and other financial aid.
Moving forward, working with various partners, Bloomberg Philanthropies will continue to surface and implement lessons learned from CollegePoint’s original cohort model and strategically devise ways to help even more students determine their best options and opportunities after high school.