EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

Problem Every year, 440,000 low-income high school seniors who are qualified to go to college do not enroll; 85% of them never even fill out a college application (Hahn and Price, 2008). This is in large part because low-income students face a college application information gap: they have limited access to information about which colleges to apply to, how to complete a college application, what a good application essay looks like, and how to navigate the complicated financial aid process. Low-income high schools are drastically understaffed: one college counselor may serve as many as 740 students. Moreover, less than half of low-income high school students report receiving help from an adult in preparing for college (Ad Council 2006). Attending college is one of the best ways to advance economically; without the information and guidance necessary to apply to college, many low-income students are deprived of the opportunity to escape poverty. 

Concept

AppSuccess bridges this information and knowledge gap so that low-income students who want to apply to college have the same opportunities as their high-income peers. 

AppSuccess is a web-based platform where low-income high school seniors (“Applicants”) are matched with undergraduate students at top universities (“Mentors”) who serve as volunteer college counselors throughout the course of the student’s application process. Using an in-depth curriculum, Mentors will work one-on-one with Applicants on the website to navigate the college application process: where and when to apply, how to write a compelling admissions statement, how to fill out FAFSA—providing the same services for free that currently only privileged students can afford. The entire guidance relationship takes place online, allowing us to overcome geographic and logistical barriers that have impeded the effectiveness of other volunteer guidance organizations.

 

Mission

AppSuccess provides low-income students who are qualified to go to a four-year college with the means to get there. We eliminate the college application information gap by matching our Applicants with students from top colleges who guide them through the college application and financial aid process via our interactive online platform. 

Theory of Change

If we provide low-income students with personalized college application assistance, then they will get into better colleges and have improved life options and opportunities. 

Management Team

AppSuccess has five founding members, whose backgrounds span education, computer development, finance, consulting, and nonprofits: 

• The CEO was a Teach For America teacher, worked D.C. Public Schools, and founded a small education organization; at 

• The CTO is a computer science student and has extensive experience in web developme nt; 

• The COO worked at Boston Consulting Group where he advised urban school districts; 

• The CAO was a Teach For America teacher and works extensively with the YMCA to develop leadership programs for college students; 

• The CFO served for over 20 years as a portfolio manager at Fidelity and

Wellington Management Company. 

We will hire web developers to help build the website, and will grow our staff commensurate with the growth of our organization. By our sixth year, we plan to have a total of eleven people on staff. 

Market Analysis

AppSuccess plans to target the 440,000 low-income students who are qualified to go to college but do not enroll. We will recruit students at Title I schools, which have the largest concentration of low-income students, by reaching out to teachers and staff at those schools. In our first year, we will serve 90 Applicants, and grow to serve over 6,000 by our sixth year. While there are many organizations that offer college counseling, AppSuccess will be the first to provide free, personalized college assistance to low-income students anywhere in the country. This gives us a first-mover advantage, establishing AppSuccess as the main source for college counseling to low-income students.

Market Analysis

AppSuccess plans to target the 440,000 low-income students who are qualified to go to college but do not enroll. We will recruit students at Title I schools, which have the largest concentration of low-income students, by reaching out to teachers and staff at those schools. In our first year, we will serve 90 Applicants, and grow to serve over 6,000 by our sixth year. While there are many organizations that offer college counseling, AppSuccess will be the first to provide free, personalized college assistance to low-income students anywhere in the country. This gives us a first-mover advantage, establishing AppSuccess as the main source for college counseling to low-income students. 

Financial Plan

Our model projects that we will be cash-flow positive by our third year of operation. Our expenses will be driven mainly by web-development and personnel costs, and will gradually grow from $325,000 in year one to $650,000 in year six as we double our headcount to accommodate increased web traffic and recruitment efforts. We will be financed mainly by grants and individual donations, and will slowly introduce additional revenue streams including advertising and corporate partnership. 

 

Operations

In our first year, we will draw Mentors from three universities, and expand to work with the schools on the U.S. News Top 100 Colleges list by our fifth year. In each university that we work with, we will recruit a Campus Leader—a student leader who will serve to recruit Mentors and serve as a liaison between Mentors and AppSuccess. 

AppSuccess headquarters will be based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Employees will be based out of AppSuccess headquarters, though employees will have the option of working remotely. 

Incorporation AppSuccess will be incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in Massachusetts.