College Advising Corps in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has announced a $20 million gift from the Ballmer Group in support of an effort to enroll, by 2025, a million low-income, first-generation students in college.
The gift will be used to launch Goal 2025, an expansion of CAC's "near-peer" advising model, which, in partnership with twenty-four universities, trains and places recent college graduates as full-time college advisors in rural, suburban, and urban high schools across the United States. CAC advisors work closely with teachers and administrators to infuse high schools with a college-going culture and help students and families navigate the admissions process, including taking SAT/ACT tests, filing for federal aid, and applying for scholarships and financial aid. Since 2005, CAC has helped more than three hundred thousand students enroll in college, nearly three-quarters of whom were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
The gift also inaugurates a new fundraising campaign aimed at supporting the organization's plans to add advisors and bolster its training programs, build new partnerships with high schools and school districts, expand partnerships with colleges and universities, enhance its virtual-advisor network with new technologies, invest in research on the factors that influence college enrollment and success, and share best practices more widely with educational organizations.
"We have set this bold goal for 2025 because our near-peer advising has been able to help propel students into opportunities they have earned," said CAC founder and CEO Nicole Hurd. "Advising is a critical piece to a successful transition after high school, and our economy and communities are demanding we better prepare all students for this transition. With the generous support of our investors, we can continue to dramatically scale this model and reach hundreds of thousands of new students who have the ability to succeed in college — at community colleges, technical colleges, and four-year colleges. With this initiative, we intend to spread the economic and other benefits that the transformative educational experience of college can bring."
Ballmer Group co-founder and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was himself a first-generation college graduate. "A college education does more to boost economic mobility than perhaps any other step a young person can take," said Connie Ballmer. "When I speak with college-bound students who had previously never dreamed of going, I am so inspired by their sense of hope and possibility."
(Photo credit: College Advising Corps)