OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Edu-Harmony: Creating affordable relationships between you and higher education. (Update 2 12/07/2015)

eduHarmony is a non-profit that makes college affordable by matching students to colleges and scholarships.

Photo of Sushma Ravindran

Written by

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

Students looking for an affordable college experience.

eduHarmony is a non-profit that makes college affordable to students by matching them to colleges and scholarships that fit their career goals.

Let's take a look at the journey map of our first student, Edster.

Edster is in his senior year of high school and wants to be an engineer. He comes from a family of working class parents. Edster doesn't have the finances to pay for college, nor does he have access to information regarding higher education.

Edster meets eduHarmony

Image title

Edster learns about eduHarmony and decides to apply.

Edster checks the criteria and speaks to an advisor about the process. He is guided through the application process based on a holistic assessment developed by eduHarmony and qualifies for an interview.

At the interview, one of our advisors assesses his goals and aspirations to build a profile. Within a timeframe, eduHarmony matches Edster to engineering programs and scholarship that best suit his profile and goals.

Edster, with the help of eduHarmony, applies to 5 colleges.  He gets into University of Southern California and his college experience is made more affordable with company scholarships to support his cost of attendance.

eduHarmony matches Edster with a mentor from the company, who has a similar life experiences and a successful career in the field. When Edster graduates, he becomes a mentor to another student entering the field, building our learning ecosystem.


We've updated our idea to incorporate sponsorships from a company. Each semester intake will be sponsored by a company who will be a key partner in our program. Our scholarship funds will be provided by the sponsored company.

Below are the journey maps of the student and the company that connect with eduHarmony.

Student's Journey Map
Company's Journey Map

We've also done a mock up interview of a student with eduHarmony and some questions he had on our company. You can watch the video here.

Business Model Canvas

eduHarmony's Business Model Canvas

  • Our social entrepreneurship will start collecting funds for the first round of scholarships + operating expenses through an online crowdfunding campaign.
  • After achieving our financial goal, 80% of the funds will go to scholarship funds and 20% will be for operating expenses.
  • We match the students with scholarships after suggesting best college fit and assessing his/her financial needs.
  • The students are matched with a mentor, an industry leader that will guide him/her through the college and recruiting experience.
  • The mentor will offer career advice and will check in with the student regularly. The relationship commitment goes until the student graduates a 4-year college and becomes a mentor to new candidates.
  • The first round of scholarships will be sponsored by the crowdfunded campaign. However, during the first year the entrepreneurs of Edu- Harmony are going to establish relationships with organizations that will sponsor the next cycle of scholarship receivers.
  • The sponsoring companies are responsible for providing the financing to our program and in-house talent as mentors to our outstanding candidates. As a return, our students will be evangelists to their brand spreading the love of the harmonic relationship at career events & school events.
  • The organization gets good P.R and tax credits (corporate social responsibility).
  • The mentors will be giving back to the community and helping students to achieve their full potential.
  • The students will graduate from 4-year colleges and then contribute to eduHarmony as mentors.

The program will create a virtuous cycle where organizations, students and professionals work together in order to create a more affordable college experience.

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

We are going to pitch our idea to students and incorporate feedback into our idea.

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

Any feedback regarding the idea will be helpful in molding the next version.

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?

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Sushma.  Nice idea and great conversation in the comments.  At first when I read your proposal I thought your team was planning to match students to existing scholarships.  Apparently there are scholarships available from many sources, of different amounts, that students do not know about.  From reading the post again and the comments it seems that your plan is to get funding from sponsors for the scholarships.  Is that correct?  Have you also thought about directing students to outside scholarships as a way to increase opportunities for more students?  

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Hi all,

you've done a lot of progress on your idea. I like that you followed Alexandra's suggestion of using a business canvas model to think about the viability and sustainability of your idea. 

It's great to hear that you have started testing your idea with a number of students and scholarship giving organizations. I like how you started exploring a way to make the idea viable.

I'm curious to know what would be the cost for students? I can imagine it being free for students (if the process is very selective) and the revenus coming from companies' sponsorships but I wanted to confirm with you.

Although a very different program and tackling a different issue, I thought you might want to look up Academic Honors as their admission process might provide you some inspiration:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

I've just watched the video (did not have a chance today)! It's a nice complement to your idea in terms of answering some questions a student who have heard about your program, but I'm not sure how much someone would get without knowing about the program.  It seems that the audience for the video is the former rather than the latter, but I thought I will share as I think I was expecting more of a stand alone video explaining the concept (it's important to frame expectations :-) ).

Photo of Sushma Ravindran

Thank you Anne-Laure, I agree with your feedback.  We need to reframe the title to "frequently asked questions" for the video.

I've only  recently understood how to present a well worked on idea to a new audience. I've realized that sometimes the most important bits are missed in the presentation due to lack of perspective.

Photo of Sushma Ravindran

Thank you Anne-Laure for the feedback,
The american Honors program has partnerships with universities and there is definetly a lot we can learn from.
There is no monetary cost for students but they do have to fill out our application through our website.

Photo of Irene Kien

I think you have a great idea attached here. The visual representation of your idea makes it really easy what you want to implement. I think a lot of students are not equipped with this type of platform that can open their eyes to many education opportunities. I hope to read more about your idea!

Photo of Tatiana Pilon

Thank you for your feedback, Irene! We are looking to move our idea forward and hopefully implement one day. Please feel free to suggest features that you would love to see at our eduHarmony platform.

Photo of Sushma Ravindran

Thank you for your feedback Irene.

Photo of Gavin Cosgrave

Great thinking, the user experience maps make the process easy to visualize, and they look awesome!
From what I gathered, eduHarmony (is it real yet, or just idea?) basically finds college/scholarship opportunities for students who might not know about them, then supports them through the application process?
I really like the mentor aspect, I think that could be the most valuable part of the idea. If the mentor was just a college counselor that worked with the student starting in middle school, that would be really valuable.
How would this service be provided? It sounds like it would be expensive, yet offered to students who couldn't otherwise afford college counseling help.
Love it, excited to see how this evolves!

Photo of Tatiana Pilon

Hello Gavin,
Thank you for your feedback. We appreciate the time you took to help our team move forward. We would like to develop a product based on our previous struggles to find reliable scholarships. Our Edu- Harmony team will create a database of reliable scholarships and match with our student talent while giving guidance throughout the college application process. For the business model, we would like to create a non-profit and survive from donations coming from students (mentees), professionals (mentors), and sponsors (organizations).
Also, the idea of having a mentor comes from the fact that we can learn a lot from somebody that has been on our shoes before. The mentor will be inspiring students and giving guidance through the challenging college experience. He will be a professional coming from a similar background and achieving goals that the student aims to accomplish. This aspect creates a sense of community and once the student graduates, he will also be a mentor to another applicant.

Photo of Shane Zhao

Great discussion Gavin and Tatiana.

Gavin made a good point about the value of connecting with experienced counselors in addition to the scholarship match. How might this platform help students navigate through the broader landscape of college finances? Check out Ryan's Brainer idea: Perhaps there might be a chance to collaborate?

Photo of Tatiana Pilon

Thank you for your feedback, Shane. As a matter of fact, we uploaded a business canvas to clarify how eduHarmony will help students to make college more affordable and help them navigate through this experience.

Also, one of the key aspects of our idea is to have sponsoring companies funding our scholarship matching cycle and providing in-house professionals as mentors to our outstanding students. The sponsoring company receives positive public relations (students will be evangelists for the sponsoring company) possible tax credit and the students will receive career guidance through mentors. For more detailed information, please review our business canvas.

Also, thank you for the collaboration suggestion! Our team would love to collaborate with the platform.

Thank you again for your feedback and please let us know how can we improve our updated idea.

Photo of Patricio Toussaint

Hi Sushma:

Great IDEA! I really like it. I was thinking that one thing you can add while there is an interview process ask about what would be an ideal job for the potential student or ask if any previous experience in any field. By asking this questions you can add a match from one company that could hire students and offer them part time jobs in order to reduce the cost for college. I uploaded an idea that you can get insights and hope to improve your idea! here is my Idea

Photo of Tatiana Pilon

Thank you for your feedback, Patricio! Our eduHarmony team appreciates your great suggestion. As a matter of fact, we updated our idea and incorporated the career advancement aspect into the sponsoring company responsibility of providing mentors to our outstanding candidates.

Our team realized that matching students with mentors from sponsoring companies would be a key aspect of our idea. The student will get exposure to the corporate culture before joining the company through coach sessions and on-campus visits offered by the mentors. Also, he would have a champion inside the company that would guide him through the best internship fit instead of blindly applying. We would not guarantee an internship. However, we believe that our outstanding students will have a greater chance to network their way to an amazing opportunity inside that company or industry.

I hope this answer was helpful and we would love to collaborate with ONE-STOP Education.

Photo of Alexandra Alden

Hi! Alex here from Path to Pitching, good start! Glad to see you’re interesting in making your idea real and pitching it to our network of accelerators! To get your idea pitch ready you'll need to form a team, then get out in the community and talk to your users to validate your problem and customers. Pitching to students is a great idea, can you pitch to universities as well, and scholarship giving organizations? Make sure to share what you learn! Once you've done that start prototyping as soon as possible.

Check out our Human Centered Milestones, they are intended to help you on your Path to Pitching:

Learn more about the Path to Pitching:

Photo of Tatiana Pilon

Thank you for your guidance, Alex. Our team is working on a prototype for the eduHarmony online platform as we speak. After talking to students and professionals, we realized that our strongest differentiator among other scholarship websites was the mentorship aspect. With this in mind, we clarified the function of the mentors as well as students and sponsors.

Please feel free to review our updated idea and give us feedback on how can we improve our eduHarmony community. Thanks again and we are looking forward to making our idea real!

Photo of Denny Wong

Great idea to fund your own studies through crowd funding campaign. 

Photo of Tatiana Pilon

Thank you for your feedback, Denny! We are looking forward to move this idea forward and hopefully implement one day. Please feel free to suggest additional features that you would like to see at Edu - Harmony.

Photo of Alexandra Alden

Love this. I think that you wouldn't necessarily need to be a non-profit. I can see possible revenue streams within your model, what about having a core package but then students pay for additional features? I would check out the Social Business Model Canvas to help you map your idea:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Hi Sushma and team,

nice idea and great visuals and experience journey.
I originally felt your idea was aiming to help students 1) find a college that suits her / him (in terms of interests: it reminded me of this book "Colleges that change lives" by Loren Pope) and 2) find a scholarship. From your reply to Gavin, it seems it's more the second one.
Like Gavin, I wondered what was the business model and who would pay? You don't want students to pay ...
The non-for profit model is worth exploring. You might want to think of what would be the motivation for businesses to sponsor your organization. Also how much would students want to pay for this service? You'll need to be able to really show value.
I like the mentoring aspect and also the idea to build a community with students from previous years mentoring future students.
I'm also curious of how you are going to assess the students: have you thought of ways to interpret the data you will gather on students? Are you envisioning the matching process to be done mostly by the mentors or are you thinking of developing some "personas" to help you (developing an algorithm for this seems quite impossible).
I think that in terms of prototyping you should check what would be most attractive for high school students but also talk with counselors to understand the process they go through. You'll also need to figure out the business model that can support your idea.
Looking forward to seeing this evolve.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Hi again, you might want to check this idea:
It's different but there is a component of mentoring that is similar to your idea.