Goal 2025 Announcement

National advising network announces plan to enroll 1,000,000
underrepresented students in postsecondary education by 2025 

Backed by leading national philanthropists, College Advising Corps sets goal to transform educational opportunity and economic mobility for students across the U.S.

Chapel Hill, N.C. – (For release May 18, 2018) – College Advising Corps, the rapidly growing national program for boosting college access and attainment, has announced its goal of enrolling 1,000,000 low-income, first-generation-college, and underrepresented students in postsecondary education by 2025. The goal, backed by a launch gift of $20 million from Steve and Connie Ballmer, inaugurates a new fundraising campaign that will be part of CAC’s comprehensive actions to confront a severe national problem and dramatically increase the opportunities for young people in communities across the country to pursue higher education of all kinds, boost their economic mobility, and build the future of their families and communities.

CAC’s goal will capitalize upon the proven success of its near-peer advising model. In partnership with 24 universities, CAC trains recent college graduates and places them as full-time college advisers in high schools in rural, suburban, and urban areas across the United States. Advisers become part of the school’s community, work closely with teachers and administrators to tie college-going into the culture of the school, and help students and families navigate the maze of admissions processes that are critical to postsecondary education, including SAT/ACT testing, federal aid filing (e.g., FAFSA), and scholarship and financial aid applications. Advisers supplement, rather than replace, existing high school counseling staff, thereby reaching more students.

CAC’s goal for 2025 builds upon its growing success. In its first year, 2005-06, CAC had 14 advisers who served in 16 high schools, all in a single state. This year, CAC has 654 advisers who are serving in 646 high schools across 14 states, plus 32 advisers serving virtually. Along the way, CAC has helped more than 300,000 students enroll in college. CAC now intends to more than double its impact since its founding and help enroll one million students from low-income, first-generation-college, and underrepresented backgrounds in college by 2025.

“We have set this bold goal for 2025 because our near-peer advising has been able to help propel students into opportunities they have earned. Advising is a critical piece to a successful transition after high school, and our economy and communities are demanding we better prepare all students for this transition,” said CAC’s founder and chief executive officer, Nicole Hurd. “With the generous support of our investors, we can continue to dramatically scale this model and reach hundreds of thousands of new students who have the ability to succeed in college—at community colleges, technical colleges, and four-year colleges. With this initiative, we intend to spread the economic and other benefits that the transformative educational experience of college can bring.”

Most of the students that CAC serves come from student populations that are considerably underrepresented in college—for example, nearly three-quarters of the students that CAC advisers serve are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Likewise, more than 70% are usually the first from their families to graduate from college. CAC’s research-driven method of building programs has demonstrated that its advising model significantly increases college awareness, enrollment, and persistence among students, notably those that higher education is not reaching. The data are also clear that postsecondary education today is a key driver in economic mobility.

CAC has inaugurated its goal backed by the $20 million launch gift from Steve and Connie Ballmer, co-founders of Ballmer Group. Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, was himself the first person in his family to graduate from college. “A college education does more to boost economic mobility than perhaps any other step a young person can take,” said Connie Ballmer. “When I speak with college-bound students who had previously never dreamed of going, I am so inspired by their sense of hope and possibility.”

The Ballmers’ gift extends the network of philanthropic organizations that today are backing the Corps and initiates the fundraising campaign that will support the integrated steps CAC is taking to achieve its 2025 goal, including

  • Increasing its number of advisers as well as boosting its adviser-training programs.
  • Building new partnerships with high schools and school districts in many more communities and cities, notably across underserved rural and urban areas in every region.
  • Expanding its partnerships with colleges and universities.
  • Implementing new technologies to improve and expand its rapidly growing virtual-adviser network.
  • Investing in even more research to increase its understanding of key factors that influence college enrollment and success.
  • Sharing its growing knowledge of successful advising practices even more widely with other educational organizations.


Read more in:
The New York Times,A $20 Million Gift for College
Inside Higher Education, Champion for Low-Income Students Gets a Boost Itself
Philanthropy News Digest, “Ballmer Group Awards $20 Million to College Advising Corps
The News & Observer, “How to get a million low-income students to college? This organization has a plan.