College Advising Corps in 2018: Our Year in Review

At College Advising Corps, 2018 was one of our most exciting years yet, with big news happening all year long. But we also spent our year doing the most important work: helping underserved students see a path to college.

Here’s what we did in 2018!


CAC received a $20 million gift from the Ballmer Group to launch Goal 2025, CAC’s commitment to enroll 1 million students in higher education by 2025. That was especially important to Ballmer Group founders Connie and Steve Ballmer, who see how receiving a college education does more to boost a student’s economic mobility than any other step. Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft executive, is the first person in his family to graduate from college.

New York Times columnist David Leonhardt highlighted CAC in his column, saying that the work CAC does is key to helping low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students enroll in college. As Leonhardt wrote: “College is the single most reliable path to the middle class and beyond.”

Heidi Estrada, a student at Sam Houston High School advised by TCU adviser Alma Luna, received a $25,000 Live Más scholarship from the Taco Bell Foundation. Heidi was her senior class valedictorian and went on to study political science at the George Washington University this fall. Heidi said the guidance she received from her adviser Alma — who was also advised by a CAC adviser — was invaluable in helping her make college a reality.


Tony award-winning actor, musician, and writer Daveed Diggs joined CAC’s Board of Directors. Diggs originated the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” receiving a Tony for his performance. Diggs said that CAC’s work is “exactly the kind of hands-on advocacy that can actually combat some of the disastrous racial, economic, and gender disparities in this country.”

Founder and CEO Nicole Hurd was named one of TIME’s 31 People Changing the South, joining changemakers like Bryan Stevenson and the South Fulton Eight. “If we don’t do this, then the American Dream is really in jeopardy,” Dr. Hurd said in the article.


CAC kicked off its 13th school year by adding two new university partners, UC Merced and the University of Utah.

Overall, CAC has 716 advisers serving 210,000 students in 670 schools across 16 states this school year. 80% of advisers are first-generation or people of color or were Pell-eligible in college, and 10% of advisers were advised by CAC when they were in high school.


Edson Leyva, who attended the Lab School of Finance and Technology in the Bronx and was advised by NYU adviser Pedro Cordova, was one of the first recipients of College Board’s $40,000 Opportunity Scholarship. Edson and two other students learned they’d won the scholarship live on Good Morning America.

November & December

Schools served by CAC in Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia received free tickets from Reach Higher to attend Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” book tour. The students and advisers said seeing one of their role models reminded them the importance of getting a college education — and the privilege that comes with achieving that dream.

To University of Chicago adviser Musaab Bashir, seeing Mrs. Obama helped him remember that “with CAC, I’m helping people uncover their potential.”