‘I am the future’: During COVID-19, low-income students fight to defy college dropout stats
Jul 15, 2020
The Studio @ Blue Meridian embraces experimentation and empowers leaders in order to catalyze more organizations’ readiness for significant scaling.
We believe in the power of scale — whether it’s expanded reach, impact, or influence — to address intractable social challenges. We also know that promising approaches exist, but many face barriers on their path to becoming scalable solutions. In order to accelerate more organizations’ readiness for significant scaling, we have launched The Studio @ Blue Meridian. The Studio is central to Blue Meridian Partners’ commitment to collaboration and experimentation in pursuit of boosting the economic mobility of young people and families trapped in poverty.
Many organizations with visionary leaders and solid track records still face barriers to scale. A gap in the funding market hinders social sector leaders from having the freedom and flexibility they need to experiment with and reﬁne their strategies. In particular, systemic racial inequities limit the flow of philanthropic capital to leaders of color. However, with the right funding and support, social sector leaders and organizations can work to address barriers and prepare to take their solutions to scale.
in the funding market, limiting opportunities to experiment and reﬁne strategies.
The Studio @ Blue Meridian aims to empower social sector organizations to accelerate their readiness to significantly scale their reach, impact, and influence. These investments empower visionary leaders who want to think bigger and prepare for transformational growth by providing access to the flexible resources—both coaching and capital—required to develop, test, and enhance their approach to solving complex social challenges. In our investing, The Studio considers the historical racial inequities in funding, and believes it is important to support leaders who share lived experiences with the people they serve.
committed to date to organizations looking to accelerate their readiness for scale
Waterford UPSTART helps young children develop cognitive and social-emotional skills in the home by empowering parents to become their child’s first and most influential teachers. Waterford UPSTART’s instructional program is used 15 minutes per day, five days a week, guiding children along a personalized path to learn the fundamentals of literacy. Parents are also partnered with parent coaches who provide tools and insight to help parents continue to work with their children offline. Independent research shows the average graduate enters kindergarten reading at nearly a first-grade level. Waterford UPSTART is available to all families, including those unserved or underserved by existing Pre-K options, at no cost.
College Possible makes college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. They use near-peer coaching – leveraging the power of dedicated and passionate recent college graduates serving as AmeriCorps members – to offer mentoring and support to students. In 2016, College Possible launched a new partnership model called Catalyze, which was born out of the belief that an innovative approach to increasing college success for low-income students could be embedded on college campuses and scaled to serve many more students. Catalyze builds the capacity of four-year colleges by providing a research-based curriculum, training and tools to integrate near-peer coaching into their operation, extending the reach of existing infrastructure.
Family Independence Initiative (FII) trusts and invests directly in low-income people so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity. It provides a technology platform, UpTogether, where people experiencing poverty can build and exchange social capital and access unrestricted cash transfers to help them accomplish goals they have chosen on their own self-determined paths.
FII uses the data and achievements of people who join UpTogether to drive government and philanthropy adoption of its strength-based approach to reach the 50 million people living with low-incomes in the US.
Inaugurated in Seattle in 2011 as the nation’s first pre-arrest, pre-booking diversion model and now replicated across the nation and internationally, LEAD uses a multi-agency systems approach to reduce criminal justice involvement for people whose unlawful conduct stems from mental illness or substance use disorder. A partnership of social service organizations, justice-systems and elected leaders, and diverse community stakeholders, LEAD authorizes law enforcement officers to divert such people entirely out of the criminal justice system and into long-term, non-coercive, community-based case management at the earliest possible opportunity: the moment of potential arrest. By intervening at the front door of the criminal justice system and deploying evidence-based practices proven most effective for people with these complex challenges, LEAD provides a transformative new solution not only for the people it serves but for law enforcement agencies, health systems, nonprofit service providers, and communities. The LEAD National Support Bureau, a program of the Public Defender Association, is the nation’s exclusive resource for strategic guidance and technical support for jurisdictions implementing LEAD.
New Leaders offers evidence-based leadership training for school leaders at every level to ensure schools and systems provide all students with the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Their nationwide network of diverse, skilled school leaders reflects the communities they serve and believes that every student can excel, especially students of color and those from low-income communities. New Leaders forges deep partnerships with schools, districts, states, and institutions of higher education to equip school leaders to be powerful and positive forces for change. New Leaders champions policies that reflect the transformative power of exceptional school leadership and that break down inequitable structural and institutional barriers to student achievement and educational equity.
OneGoal is a national postsecondary success organization that works to close the college degree divide and create a more equitable future. They partner with public schools in low-income communities across the country to ensure postsecondary planning, preparation, and support are no longer extracurricular luxuries, but rather integral components of the high school experience. Their three-year program starts as a daily class in students’ junior and senior years of high school and continues with remote support through students’ first year of college or other postsecondary path. In 2019, OneGoal launched a systemwide solution that integrates their model into the fabric of entire school districts, thus ensuring all students have the opportunity to achieve their greatest postsecondary aspirations.
Compass Working Capital supports families with low incomes to build assets and financial capabilities as a pathway to economic opportunity, and out of poverty. Compass’ core program model supports families living in federally subsidized housing, by partnering with affordable housing providers to expand the scope and impact of an existing federal housing initiative – the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. Since 2010, Compass has worked with these partners to integrate the FSS program’s highly-scalable asset-building opportunity with financial coaching and other asset-building strategies. Its model has significantly increased enrollment rates and had a measurable impact on the financial security and economic mobility of participating households. Compass aims to scale its model and, ultimately, make asset-building the norm rather than the exception in our nation’s anti-poverty work.