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Higher Ed Challenge: Announcing Our Top Ideas!

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Over the course of the Higher Ed Challenge, we were blown away by the number of creative ideas submitted to answer the question: “How might we reimagine the cost of college in the U.S. and how it’s paid for?”

The quality of ideas and the collaborations that came into this challenge over the past three and a half months has been truly inspiring. Now we're excited to recognize Six Top Ideas for their alignment with our evaluation criteria, innovative thinking and human-centered approach. Join our challenge sponsor, UBS, and the OpenIDEO team in celebrating these creative solutions for their potential to tackle the barrier of affordability in higher education.

Higher Ed Top Ideas

1Gen2Fund – With an emphasis on storytelling, this idea is a crowdfunding platform where 1st generation students can seek financial support and receive coaching to help them complete a 4-year bachelor's degree. We’re excited to see how this idea will create a community for 1st generation students and give them access to a network of funding opportunities.

Long Term Education Insurance –  By spreading the cost of college across a “risk pool” of subscribers, Jim’s idea envisions lowering the average cost of college through education insurance. Drawing inspiration from the healthcare industry, this market-based solution is an innovative way to reimagine how higher ed financing can work at a larger scale.  

UnBroke – What if families had the market power to negotiate tuition? UnBroke provides low-income families with access to tuition advocates who will negotiate down the cost of college on their behalf. It’s been inspiring to watch how the UnBroke team has been developing this potentially disruptive idea in a human-centered way.

Bludesks – Inspired by clearinghouses in the airline industry, this online marketplace will allow students to register for on-campus courses at discounted prices. Bludesks has the potential to serve as a bridge back into college for un-enrolled students who were unable to continue their higher education due to financial barriers.

EdCreds – Building pathways for higher education never starts too early. Shari’s idea is a rewards program that gives students incentives to earn financial credits towards college by participating in extracurricular and learning activities. We’re looking forward to how this college currency system will give students a launchpad for success at an early age.

3C Fund – Building on the pay it forward model, Jaskeerat’s idea is a community fund that will pay for students’ full tuition in return for financial contributions back after graduation. We love the 3C Fund’s emphasis on community and the potential for it to engage a wide range of partners at both the local and national levels.

Higher Ed Highlights

In addition to our six top ideas, we also wanted to recognize ProjectEd and Tuition Heroes for their contributions to the Higher Ed Challenge. These two teams have been amazing collaborators who have been incorporating community feedback to develop their ideas in a human-centered way. We hope to see them continue to develop after the Higher Ed Challenge.

What’s Next?

In the upcoming months, we'll offer support to these ideas with help from our challenge sponsor UBS. A few ideas will be invited to present at a convening event in New York at the UBS office. Each idea is unique in its content and stage of development. We'll do our best to identify areas of need that we can help address.

Share Your Impact Story

We hope that everyone who contributed to this challenge will continue to collaborate, refine and work at bringing your ideas to life. Help us celebrate your collective impact by sharing your story in the upcoming Impact phase. The Impact Phase is a space where the OpenIDEO community can share updates on how our projects are progressing beyond the challenge. Use this template to guide your thinking. We hope to see how you will continue to activate the community around you and help our team promote your idea across our networks.  

Congratulations to our Top Ideas and thanks to our entire community for joining the collaborative effort to make college more accessible.We can’t wait to see all ideas from this challenge evolve into powerful impact!

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Higher Ed Challenge


Join the conversation:

Photo of tysontom

I am really happy when see this article.Its really fantastic for me.The great tips are provided here. .All I can say that i really enjoyed reading this amazing post.

Photo of maya clothing

Thanks for sharing this wonderful ideas.I really like your article.its really fantastic for me. . The Edcreds is like a great idea.Thanks for sharing this fantastic article.

Photo of Alexandra

EdCreds sounds like a great idea, however it is very important to keep the number of extracurricular and learning activities high so that students have a variety of options to choose from.

Photo of Randy

EdCreds is something I have been looking for years now! I love your post, thanks to you I finally have it. Great job!

Photo of Kevin

I love these ideas. My favourite one is Long Term Education Insurance. I think this might help our system with health insurance!

Photo of Frank

3G Fund is the best idea I have seen for the long time! I am so impressed! Great article, thank you.

Photo of Soan Roger

Well, I am glad we have finally started talking about the costs of our education. After all, if it gets more and more expesive, as it seems now, our nation just going to get dumber and dumber.

Photo of Julius Hennig

Such an inspiring article. It is so good to know that people like you exist.

Photo of Kathryn

Great ideas, especially 1Gen2Fund! I'm looking forward for more!

Photo of Simone Smith

EdCreds sounds like a great idea, however it is very important to keep the number of extracurricular and learning activities high so that students have a variety of options to choose from.

Photo of Olivia

Thank you for this insightful article. I found it very useful and enjoyed it very much.

Photo of ES1959

EdCreds sounds interesting but I'm afraid has no real value as a college currency system.

Photo of Alexander1968

The idea of Long Term Education Insurance is interesting to me but I wonder who will go for this method of spreading the cost on others?

Photo of Alice Brown

i would like to congratulate bludesks team for an innovative ideas. very helpful for low income families... please read it," Google the award winning book '#5CoreMethods of Innovation' that can help you think of a disruptive product. written by sanjeev-sharma ,You can also buy it from Amazon".....

Photo of Scott Kennedy

Hi Alice, Thanks for the supportive note. After passing this stage, we're excited to take our idea to the next level. We certainly hope it will be disruptive - by opening up quality universities to a broader population that previously didn't have access. We appreciate your support! -Scott

Photo of Helen Smith

I admire the concepts. I especially like the crowdfunding platform idea.

Photo of Frank

I really like the idea of Bludesks. Though it's still a paid form of education, cheaper is always better that none at all.