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Our 1:1 Promise: Work with local communities during college in exchange for guaranteed job placement after graduation

Companies commit to hiring students from "Our Promise" & donate salaries towards community work in return for a student's 1-year commitment.

Photo of Allie Mahler
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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

Our Promise targets students who have limited options for financial resources during their college education. By committing to work with a local non-profit partner in the town that the student's college is in, they are in turn enrolled in Our Promise program - which includes 50 of the most innovative companies in the U.S. & globally. These companies would include Whole Foods, TOMS, Starbucks, and others that are committed to local community work and student success after graduation.

Our Promise is a program that aims to connect three seemingly disparate groups: local non-profit & community groups, students requiring financial assistance, and the top 50 business in the United States & globally.

The way we see this program working together is through a multi-stage process: First, connecting untapped talent (students) with community groups that need the resources and time of people who can lend important skills (e.g. videography, writing, event coordination). Second, educating students with career skills through the community work, and in turn, then applying those skills and training through Our Promise programming, to the one-year job commitment at a top U.S. company. And third, our business partners would invest in a salaried position for a student at the local community organization, in order to affirm the commitment to the student after graduation. 

We are thinking about this as the new 1:1 model. 1 job in exchange for 1 semester (or 1 year) of working in a local community. 

We think this has the opportunity to be a game changer for all involved and to make a real commitment that has an impact over multiple years.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

An early experiment would be getting one non-profit partner on board as a participating community partner and seeing what is interesting or challenging about this model. Next, we would experiment by pitching New York City based companies that could commit to creating an abbreviated version of this model (which may look like 1 week, instead of 1 year of a job).

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

It would be great to partner with the OpenIDEO community on sourcing and testing what community partners resonate and which companies students would be most interested in working with. Because our program runs over the course of the college life cycle and the year following, it would be great to talk with students or administrators who could speak to this type of experience and desires for students, businesses, and local communities.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm
  • A student collaboration

Are you interested in the Path to Pitching track we've developed for this challenge?

  • Yes

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. Does this idea make college more accessible, especially for low income students in the U.S.?

Yes! - 25%

To a degree - 50%

Not that I can tell - 25%

2. Does this idea think beyond current cost structures of college and activate new sectors or partners?

Yes! - 50%

It's attempting to - 37.5%

Not that I can tell - 12.5%

3. How excited are you about this idea?

I'm so excited I just can't hide it! - 25%

I'm pretty neutral in my excitement level - 50%

I don't feel very excited about this idea. - 25%


Join the conversation:

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Photo of Gauri Kulkarni

Hello Allie,
I really like your concept of the 1:1 Promise.  It is a great learning opportunity for students to get real world experience and connecting to local community organizations.  Also, the opportunity for a student to get paid for using his or her talent after graduation can result in great experiences. 
I was wondering if this project should be experimented in a local area before testing it in a city.  It would be both efficient and effective to start off in a controllable environment. 
Great idea and good luck! 

Photo of Alina

I like how you use the individuals talents in offering new educational opportunities that are going to be used in the future. 

Photo of OpenIDEO

We’re thrilled to have you in our Refinement phase, Allie! Your idea is a creative mix of employment after graduation, CSR efforts and reimagining the current cost structure of college that could make a real dent in college accessibility. We love your ideas for lightweight experiments. An abbreviated version of your idea, even it’s just a day, would offer really powerful insights. And having conversations with some of the key stakeholders, especially students, HR or CSR positions at companies, and university administrators would prove invaluable.

In the Refinement phase, we’d love for you to continue developing the viability, desirability and feasibility of your idea. The following are some feedback and provocations to consider. We’re curious about the numbers behind your idea. How do you envision your idea cutting costs for students? Is it primarily through their sponsored work at a nonprofit, and their salary would go directly to tuition? Using simple visuals to represent this cycle would go a long way. It seems a large part of your idea rests on the companies who sponsor the students’ work and then hire them after graduation. Prioritizing testing this assumption could be a strong key next step. Is this something of interest to companies? How might creating a diverse workforce for these companies play a role? That could be a powerful incentive for them to invest in low income students early on.

Here are some key questions and milestones we encourage from all ideas in the Refinement:
1. How might this idea address the unique needs of low-income families and first generation college students?
2. Clearly summarize the value proposition of your idea in 1-2 sentences
3. Identify assumptions that need to be answered in order to validate your value proposition.
4. Collect feedback from potential partners and users to answer the assumptions you’ve identified.
5. Communicate your idea in a visual way with user experience maps

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 12/22" to your idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

We’re excited to see this idea progress in the next weeks!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on making it to the Refinement Phase Allie! In the next few days we'll be sending you additional feedback to help you take this idea forward - so be on the lookout for that. We're looking forward to how this idea will grow!

Photo of Alexandra Alden

Hi Allie! Alex here from the Path to Pitching, cool idea! Have you done any low-fidelity prototyping yet? You could set up interviews with companies and students and do a co-creation session. If you're interested in pitching to the accelerators you will need to get out there soon and start getting feedback on your idea as problem/customer validation is important. Our milestones are a great roadmap of what you'll need to be pitch ready: 

Photo of Shane Zhao

Great to have you in the challenge Allie! And thanks for helping to organize YaleSOM workshop in NY. This is a very interesting idea that also has positive impact on the local community. We've been intrigued by the notion of creating social impact funds dedicated to affordable higher ed. In addition to job placements, perhaps companies may also invest in a social impact fund to help students afford college? Check out this likeminded post from the research phase:)

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program: