Updated: 1/24/16 - New User Scenarios - #3 and #4
Description and Implementation
ProjectED is a corporate-sponsored crowdfunding platform that engages the millennial generation in addressing the inadequate financial and social resources available to first-generation and low-income students along the path to a 4-year college degree. It will address the unique obstacles that this vulnerable student population faces through a "whole student" approach, by allocating collected funds to essential support services and financial assistance that students require from high school, through the admission and integration processes, and all the way to their goal -- graduation with a bachelor's degree. Funds will target scale-up and expansion of programs and services proven to contribute to educational success.
How does ProjectED work?
This idea brings together the public, corporate sponsors, non profits and higher education institutions to bring actionable change by creating opportunities for low income and 1st generation students to achieve college success.
The project seeks to innovate by tapping into the philosophy of action that millennials bring to causes that move them. It will be supported by a web based platform that will engage millennials via education and experiences, motivating them to become the "crowd", investing in the educational opportunities of their peers with their voice, networks, energy, time, talent and treasure. Financial investment will be encouraged through contribution matching by corporate sponsors.
Funds collected will be allocated for essential resources that will be provided to student recipients via community based organizations, schools, and at partnering higher ed institutions.
The ProjectED web platform will support and share content reflecting all activities that the project supports.
The Project seeks to address the problem of low entry to, and high attrition rates from, college by low income and first generation students. It re imagines affordability, cost, and access to a 4 year degree by focusing on essential resources for success, which include the following:
- information on scholarships, grants, loans and by providing guidance to keep one on track to access these financial supports.
- guidance on college choice so that students choose wisely, attending schools that have resources in place to support their success. Seeking to prevent failure and drop out due to lack of resources, with loss of valuable investment of money and time.
- guidance on college options so that students find the right fit - financial, emotional, social and academic. All of these are vital to attainment of a 4 year degree.
- mentoring of college students, keeping them on target to graduating on time, borrowing less, and entering the workforce with skills that lead to a high quality job.
- grants for necessities that promote student attendance and success.
Parts of the Whole
Millennials want to be part of a movement. Give them one that they care about and they will be passionate and, yes, evangelical about it. (Forbes 2015)
There are 89 million millennials in the USA. This group comprises a quarter of the country's population. They are a mission driven generation championing causes they care about in multiple ways. ProjectED creates an opportunity for this group to bring huge support to this cause. Investing now can effect change within their own and subsequent generations. Can millennials leverage their power as a group, as desired consumers, and as workforce talent, to incentive corporations to join ProjectED as sponsors?
Millennials as Givers- Key Takeaways from the Millennial Impact Project, 2015
84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014.
71% said they would be likely to give if they could increase their impact by seeing their gifts matched by another donor.
72% of millennial donors surveyed don't need to volunteer for an organization before they donate.
Millennials need to experience the cause's work without having to be on-site.
(attached documents: full summary and sources)
II. Corporate Sponsors - UPDATE: See attached document, 1/27/16
"Corporate social responsibility is millennials' new religion." Crain's
What might incentivize corporations to sponsor this project?
Might this be an opportunity for corporations to highlight their values to students and the entire millennial group, a desirable customer base and potential new employee talent? What might this look like in a ProjectED campaign?
Millennial Brand Loyalty - What brands might sponsor ProjectED? Will millennial brand loyalty act as an incentive for brands to participate in this project?
(attached document - full summary)
III. Identifying ProjectED Implementation Partners
- Collaborate with experts who can advise the Project on programs with proven outcomes on student success.
- Are there potential partners within this OI Challenge?
- Partner with colleges and universities to identify needs.
Universities as Possible Implementation Partners - Update: 1/22/16
January 8, 2016 - I met with the Executive Director of Government and External Affairs at Brooklyn College, CUNY, to get feedback on ProjectED, and to gain insights into the needs of that college and it students, as one example of a public university. Brooklyn College has historically served low income and first generation students, and it continues to do so. See attached document for insights and learnings from that conversation.
IV. The Platform - Updated 1/22/16
A website facilitating engagement and connection. It is here that millennials will connect to the cause, and feel a personal call to action.
The Millennial Impact Report reveals that this generation donates monies without necessarily connecting through volunteerism, but it also highlights that they want to be connected to the cause, and to others. To best motivate millennial investment, ProjectED will explore a variety of ways to connect donors with the cause's work, and to each other, online and off. My question is what will best serve the goal of ProjectED - to support this cause? Exploration in process...
Tracking ProjectED beneficiaries overtime, sharing stories of impact with the community on the website, and via social media, is a great way to further connection to the cause and also to gauge impact. One assumption to test is that recipients will agree to this.
(see attached updated document, 1/22/16)
Assumptions to be tested: (Update 1/22/16)
1) Recipients of ProjectED will agree to share their impact stories. Some 1st gen students face stigma on campuses. Will students agree to share personal stories?
2) Donors to the crowd fund will be happy with the corporate match as their "prize." Crowd funding platforms provide donor gifts as incentives for giving. Will donors expect gifts/prizes, in turn for donations? Will a corporate match be "prize" enough?
3) Corporations will fund educational programming in this way vs. directly donating to specific programs in the community.
(Refer to the Corporate Sponsorship document for feedback on this, 1/27/16)
4) Millennials self report that they are giving to charities. Is this truthful? Are they acting the same way that they are reporting?
Scaling Up (Update 1/21/16)
Use social media.
Include millennial users in the process of building the platform. Millennials are collaborative and when possible they want to co-create products and services with brands and industry. This approach can be beneficial to building out this project’s platform. Early feedback and continued input from users will be key. (Source)
Collaborate with corporate sponsors to create on line and offline events to build the project's visibility.
Involve foundations early in the process because like corporations they also have the resources that can build this project. (as advised by a corporate contact, 1/24)
Long Term Goals and Sustainability (Update 1/20/16)
What will the ongoing role of corporate sponsorship be? How long will corporations continue to support this Project?
Might corporate partnerships function as a catalyst, bringing initial funding and resources to jumpstart ProjectED, with the idea being that the next phase will bring foundations and individual donors in as partners? There is precedent for this approach in corporate sponsorship campaigns in the past.
USER SCENARIOS - See attached documents. (Updated 1/24/15, added #3 and #4)
1 - Meet Scarlet - 1st Generation Student (based on an interview, Jan. 2016)
2 - Meet Julia - Millennial Investor - Volunteer and Donor (Based on an interview with Julia, regarding her volunteer work with the corporate community program, Macy's Corp.)
3 - Meet Gael - Millennial Investor, Donor and Event Organizer (As an example of what is possible, inspired by research which indicates that millennials enjoy participating in experiences that support the causes they care about, and connecting with others during these experiences. They also ask friends to support them in these efforts.)
4 - Meet our "Corporate Partner" (As an example of what is possible, inspired by the successful #loveisagift campaign, Mass Mutual.)