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College Kit Starter

Providing basic resources (academic, everyday life) to support low-income students in their first year of college

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

From the research phase, we gathered that low-income students had multiple issues when it came to college affordability and that some of these costs were related to dorms and academic supplies beyond just credits. Our college kit would help alleviate some of these costs and give them a sense of support. We also noted that in some cases, it seems so difficult that low-income students did not even consider applying. We believe that our College Kit might help make low-income students more confident

This idea emerged from a brainstorming during our OpenIDEO meetup at NYU on November 5 which involves students from NYU and other schools in the city, as well as some young professionals.

Imagine Jane, a first-year generation student, who is considering applying to college. He has a great high school counselor who had helped her getting some financial aids for the colleges he want to apply. Jane is still worried because after talking with the sister of one of her friends who dropped out of college at the end of the first year, she realizes that there are a lot of hidden costs: books, notebooks, supplies for the dorm, etc. 

Yet, one of the colleges she applied to sent her an email to make her an offer and informing her that she will also receive the College Kit Starter, which includes:

1. School supplies (text books, notebooks, pens, etc.) provided by local businesses and through the students / alumni sharing network.

2. Dorm supplies (mattress, kettle, etc.) provided by local business and through the students / alumni sharing network.

3. One financial literacy course and a course of her choice for free sponsored by the university and the state.  (This could also be paid by a philanthropist).

Learning about the kit was crucial in Jane's decision to accept the college offer. 

The College Kit Starter builds upon the collaboration between local businesses, students and alumni (who have created a sharing system of supplies), the university and the state. 

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

We could prototype a physical College Kit Starter and present it to High School students and see if they would find the offer interesting and if that would lead them to consider a college. We could also contact local businesses, universities and state administration to see if there would be willing to participate to such a program. We could also find out if some sharing systems exist between students and alumni and if they could be interested to participate to the College Starter Kit.

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

Have you heard of similar programs? What assumptions are we making that we might want to test? Any other ideas on how we could prototype our idea?

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO meetup

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

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi DFA NYU Team!  A-L pointed me in your direction in a comment on the Idea I posted. 
I really like this Idea.  As this challenge asks us to think about the entire process - getting into, staying, and graduating from college there are many incidentals to consider.  For students on a tight budget something like a Metrocard (money for transportation) might be something that is a deal breaker.  If they cannot get to class they cannot attend.  Your kit addresses needs directly which is great!  (In your case for students living on campus which brings other needs.)  It is also very welcoming and I think students will enjoy it!  

There is a program within the CUNY Community College system in NYC that is addressing needs which I think you might find exciting.  It is ASAP - Accelerated Program in Asssociates Program.  The program has had amazing success in graduating Community College students in 3 years.   What is it?  "The program provides students with much more academic and financial support than most community college students receive: free tuition, textbooks and public transportation, and regular required contact with an adviser who has a relatively small caseload."   It is financed by City and State governments and two Foundations.   Due to it's success - "CUNY plans to enroll all new full-time students at Bronx Community College in the program, with a goal of having a 50 percent three-year graduation rate."    Why?  At Bronx Community College general three-year graduation rate is 11 percent, but the ASAP participants' graduation rate is 61 percent."  Wow!  Studies point to the Combination of policies - intensive advising, tutoring, and financial support as being the key to this success.        
You can read about all of the Program Perks here:                                                                                         

 The Idea that you are proposing is clearly one part of a package that can help students stay on track and in school.  Awesome!  Many 4 year residential colleges now have support services, University Learning Centers, in place for students who need tutoring etc.  One panel discussion I listened to made an interesting point about these on campus services.  Students coming from high schools that are well funded, from higher income communities, are accustomed to multiple services and they expect these to be in place.  They go find them.  Students from low income communities attending university are not accustomed to this type of enrichment and they need to be oriented as to what is available and they need to be encouraged to use it.   I wonder if individual colleges you supply The Kit can include information,  maybe cards highlighting users via storytelling, and a web link, as an example, can be included in the Kit.  Perhaps create a template which can be customized for individual schools?  Might encouraging youth to find and use these supports also help them "survive" and stay on track?

Would be great to dig deeper into funding mechanisms that might sustain your idea.  I like the idea of local businesses becoming involved.   Perhaps businesses that target students as customers might be interested.  The idea I posted suggests crowd funding as a way to specifically provide for some of the items that tuition aid does not cover, with the intent to keep students in school.  What are your thoughts on that approach?
You can find that here:

This is an exciting idea!  Looking forward to seeing it develop!

Photo of DFA NYU

Hi Bettina Fliegel ! Thank you very much for your thoughtful feedback and for sharing information about the CUNY Program. And sorry for taking so long to reply. 

We could certainly include information about the campus services. This is an awesome idea! As you said, we have a lot of them, but there are many people, esp. low income students, who don't know about them. 

Regarding fund, our main idea is to have local business funding it. We believe (as you) that businesses that target students as customers might be interested. 

Thanks again.

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