Moving America Forward

Can $5 Million Keep Community College Students in School?

March 25, 2014
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Can $5 Million Keep Community College Students in School?
Creating College Success YouTube
The Robin Hood foundation is ponying up the cash in an effort to increase graduation rates.

The key to most well-paying jobs? A college degree.

For those who do not have the funds or access to a public or private four-year university, community colleges provide an educational alternative. However, while 40 percent of the country’s undergrads choose the community college route, their odds of walking away with a degree is low. In fact, only a third of of them will graduate.

By watching the video above, you’ll learn that a major reason why many students drop out is because they are enrolled in remedial courses which can suck away their time, money and drive. Unfortunately, this prompts many students to quit. (Case in point: Only 28 percent of students who take remedial classes will graduate within 8.5 years.) For those who are trying to climb out of poverty and into the middle class, dropping out of school is a heavy price to pay — those with associates degrees earn about $10,000 more annually than a college dropout.

Now, in a first-of-its-kind effort to stop the community college dropout rate, the Robin Hood foundation is awarding $5 million to anyone who can figure out a workable solution. The Robin Hood College Success Prize is a competition that’s looking for scalable technological solutions such as mobile, computer and web-based apps that will help community college students stay on track and graduate within two to three years. “Let’s go to the brightest minds in the country and invent new ways to get students through to graduation,” Michael Weinstein, the chief program officer for Robin Hood, told Fast Company.

MORE: What If We Could Nearly Double the Graduation Rate of Community College Students With One Simple Idea?

Those interested have until summer to apply. The organization will then select up to 20 semi-finalists who will then receive additional financial and behavioral design support to work out any kinks. Three finalists will then get to see their idea tested over a course of three years on a group of 2,000 City University of New York students. The grand prize winner will be announced in October.

Learn more about the program and download an application for the competition here.

ALSO: How Chicago’s Community Colleges Are Training the Next Generation of Business Leaders

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