Harnessing the Power of Digital Technology to Improve College Access

Lumina VP to Keynote the Consumer Electronic Show’s HigherEdTECH Conference Wednesday

INDIANAPOLIS – Research shows that prospective college students and their families have difficulty finding information about college, particularly the availability of financial aid and grants. To address this challenge, Lumina Foundation has awarded more than $1.1 million in planning grants aimed at helping develop the “next generation” of college-access supports and services. These “NextGen” grants are designed to leverage the power of digital technology to promote new and innovative ways to support students on their pathway to college.

In a recent Gallup poll, 43 percent of respondents said that it was somewhat or very difficult to locate information about college financial aid. And a study using National Postsecondary Student Aid data, found that 1.7 million students failed to submit the the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in 2007-2008 because they incorrectly believed they were ineligible for aid.

“These findings tell us clearly that students and families need better guidance, more reliable access to information about paying for college and more help in applying for financial aid within college admission,” said Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis. “In an age when technology touches nearly every aspect of society, we believe that a focus on innovative technology integration can help college access organizations infuse and upgrade their existing services in ways that will dramatically benefit students and families.”

The six winning grantees in the “Envisioning the Next Generation of Student Supports” competition are developing innovative solutions designed to work in the real world of the 21st century student:

  • College Forward (Texas)—$200,000 for market research and game design for a prototype that engages students on financial aid and financial literacy topics;
  • Educational Policy Improvement Center (Oregon)—$200,000 to build and test customizable transition management systems for open enrollment institutions;
  • EduGuide (Michigan) – $155,000 to pilot an enhanced information/mentoring platform with new partners;
  • iMentor (New York) – $200,000 to support research and development for a third generation student mentoring platform with new analytic tools and more powerful data capacity;
  • San Francisco Education Fund (California) – $150,900 to integrate public and private data and overcome privacy and confidentiality barriers for a new San Francisco student tracking and guidance system;
  • Southern Regional Education Board (Georgia) – $200,000 for recommendations to states for quick to market mobile apps on college access.

“Increasing the number Americans with high-quality degrees is critical to our nation’s future economic competitiveness, and these grantees are assisting in that effort by finding better ways to connect with students and support informed decision making during critical phases of their lives,” said Merisotis.

The “Next Generation Student Supports” project is part of Lumina’s broader commitment to expanding access and success in education beyond high school, particularly among adults, first-generation college students, low-income students and students of color. This mission is directed toward a single overarching “Big Goal”—to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025.

James L. Applegate, vice president for program development at Lumina, will discuss the “NextGen” project, as well as other initiatives supporting the “Big Goal,” in the kick off keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show’s HigherEdTECH conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

About Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college—especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners.  Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using communications and convening power to build public will for change.

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2 Responses to Lumina Foundation Announces “NextGen” Grantees

  1. [...] big goal for the Lumina Foundation hasn’t changed, but the powerful foundation has come up with a new set of strategies to boost America’s proportion of college graduates to 60 percent by [...]

  2. Naomi Nelson says:

    This is an enormous step towards equal access that breaks down the barriers of class, economics, and race for future students across America. When I graduated from high school I wanted to go to college but had no idea how to identify money to fund it, how to apply, or where to go for help. It took several years after highschool before I figured out the funding process. I returned to college at age 28, married with children, graduated from Rutgers University, completed a semester at the Sorbonne University in Paris, and started graduate work at Bryn Mawr College. I would not have been able to achieve this had I not had help figuring out the funding process and the admissions process. Great opportunity for our future students!