Austin, TX— It was announced that College Forward won the annual Evergreen National Education Prize at the awards ceremony on October 29, 2019, in New York City.
The Evergreen National Education Prize is an annual competition that identifies and scales organizations that best help low-income youth achieve college or vocational school success. The Pell Institute’s research shows that the country’s poorest students have just an 11 percent chance of graduating college within six years compared to 55 percent of their more advantaged peers. Changing those outcomes will require adaptability, creativity, and innovation in both the K-12 and higher education systems in order to better address barriers and create additional pathways to lifelong success.
The Evergreen Prize Judge Committee, comprised of education and business leaders, reviewed over 70 applications from organizations with programs that increase educational and economic opportunities for underserved youth. Members of that committee included:
- John Deasy, Superintendent, Stockton Unified School District
- Dr. John B. King Jr., President and CEO of Ed Trust; former US Secretary of Education
- Saskia Levy-Thompson, Program Director, New Designs to Advance Learning, Carnegie Foundation
- Jamie Lockwood, K-12 Education Partners Manager, Facebook Education
- Todd Penner, Portfolio Director, College Success, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
- Dan Porterfield, President, Aspen Institute
- Caroline Altman Smith, Deputy Director, Education, The Kresge Foundation
- Dr. Brooke Stafford-Brizard, Director of Education, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
“Clearing away barriers on the path to college success is hard work that too often goes unnoticed. When organizations are getting it right, we should both reward them and learn from them,” said Dr. John B. King, president, and CEO of Ed Trust and former U.S. Secretary of Education, and Evergreen Prize Judge.
“By elevating what’s working and putting more resources behind successful strategies, the Prize plays a pivotal role in ensuring that all young people have the opportunity to thrive,” said Dan Porterfield, president of Aspen Institute and Evergreen Prize Judge.
Three finalists gave their pitches on Tuesday evening, vying for their share of a total of $125,000 in capital awarded to support college access and career-readiness organizations to further their reach and impact in addition to ongoing PR and marketing support.
Headquartered in Austin, TX, College Forward was awarded the top prize of $100,000 to support their growth in reaching more low-income students through its unique high-tech, high-touch college access coaching services. The judges were especially impressed with CoPilot, the student information system built on the Salesforce.com platform, that College Forward developed to provide a 360-degree perspective on the academic, financial, and social well-being of program participants. College Forward now offers this software-as-a-service to 65 nonprofit and college partner organizations for a fee, which is uniquely moving them toward self-sustainability without philanthropic support.
“Funding from the Evergreen Prize will be utilized to realize our ultimate goal, which is to develop and refine College Forward’s services to become capable of serving any collegian in the United States in an effective, engaging and sustainable manner. We can do this by providing additional partner organizations with CoPilot, our custom student information system, that allows users to easily access academic, financial aid, and crucial student data when it matters most. We believe this approach will enable us to more rapidly move the needle for low-income student outcomes nationally in college persistence, graduation, and career success,” said Austin Buchan, College Forward’s CEO.
The Opportunity Network (New York City, NY) was awarded second place and earned $15,000 in funding. The Opportunity Network utilizes networks as sources of power to catalyze opportunity and access for students from historically underrepresented communities. Get Schooled (Seattle, WA) earned third place, receiving $10,000 in funding. Get Schooled supports low-income youth to get to college, secure their first job, and persist in both.
“We hope that the Evergreen Prize will inspire innovation and reward agile organizations who work every day to change the trajectory for low-income youth through college access and workforce development programs,” said Jerry Greenwald, chairman of the Evergreen Prize and co-founder and Partner of Greenbriar Equity.
Jim McCorkell, CEO of the 2018 Evergreen Prize winner College Possible, congratulated College Forward, as well. “It was an incredible experience to receive this award – an award that not only champions innovation and determination but celebrates the programs that fight for educational access and success for students from low-income backgrounds. The Evergreen Prize award went to build our Catalyze programming, helping to accelerate our growth and leverage our peer mentoring and curriculum development. This award underscores the need to assure that all students from low-income families deserve a fair shot to go as far in life as their talents and efforts can take them.”
To be considered for the prize, each finalist pitched their organization’s impact, a plan to scale the number of low-income youth they reach, and explained how the Evergreen Prize would help them achieve their organizational goals.
Photos and detailed biographies for all the Evergreen National Prize finalists are available at www.evergreenprize.org.
About The Evergreen National Education Prize
The Evergreen National Education Prize is an annual competition that recognizes nonprofit and government organizations that best help low-income youth access and complete college or vocational degrees. The goal is to identify and grow exciting new programs that significantly boost low-income 18 to 25-year-old students toward college and vocational school success. The Evergreen Prize is offered by the Greenwald Family Foundation and is guided by a steering committee, a group of talented individuals from philanthropy, education, media, and other fields who are committed to the Prize’s mission. The Prize is managed by America Succeeds.