Working with community-based organizations to expand access
Jonathan April, Managing Director
The traditional outreach model for colleges, of recruiting at college fairs, going to high schools that they have relationships with, is preventing them from reaching and recruiting a more diverse body of students. Through early relationships with college access programs like Chicago Scholars—
we realized the incredible strengths of these community-based organizations (CBOs). CBOs identify and recruit high-potential students from underserved backgrounds, often months or years before students appear in most colleges’ pipelines, and then provide intentional support of their students not only “to college” but “through college” as well.
We know that there are huge information and opportunity gaps, not just for students but for the advisors who serve them. Even the most passionate counselors can’t cover the college admissions process, inside and out; students are not aware of all of the opportunities that can help lead to better college outcomes.
We set out to build dream resources, at no cost to them, to try to close these gaps. I traveled the country to meet with different leaders of college access organizations, TRiO programs, and access-focused high schools, pretty much any organization committed to supporting low-income, first-generation students.
We launched College Greenlight in 2012. The platform connects both sides of the desk: college access with college admissions.
Students are using the Cappex.com site to find colleges that are a good fit and match for them, discovering scholarships to pay for school, attending our webinars on the college application process, and socializing with current students at virtual block parties. CBOs are expanding the network of colleges recruiting their students and attending our professional development webinars and workshops from colleges across the country.
With our college partners, we help them engage with students they hope to recruit, but also the circle of advocates around them—their advisors, their high school counselors. Colleges can use the platform to identify CBOs that would be a good fit to partner with and build lasting pipelines, and elevate the investments they’ve made in scholarships, diversity initiatives, and fly-in programs to our community.