ScholarMatch is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that aims to make college possible for underserved youth by matching students with donors, resources, colleges, and professional networks.
Founded in 2010 by best-selling author and philanthropist Dave Eggers, ScholarMatch began as a scholarship crowdfunding platform and a project of 826 National. ScholarMatch became an independent 501(c)3 in 2012 and evolved into a full-service college access organization. ScholarMatch serves low-income, college-bound students, most of whom will be the first in their family to go to college, by providing college counseling, free online tools, scholarships, and support services all the way to college graduation. ScholarMatch has expanded rapidly from serving just 39 students in 2010 to working in-person with over 600 students per year, serving many more virtually, and awarding nearly one million in scholarship dollars.
ScholarMatch's model champions low-income and first-generation students in the three critical areas: navigating the college admissions process, paying for school, and creating a support system in college. ScholarMatch is the only major nonprofit that combines a crowdfunded scholarship platform with game-changing college access and career support for low-income youth. ScholarMatch's typical student comes from a family earning less than $25,000 per year and attends a high school with just one counselor per 500-800 students. ScholarMatch's unique approach is fueled by community engagement and focused on what their students need most: hands-on help applying to college, financial assistance with tuition, and a support system throughout college.
ScholarMatch programs include:Destination College: Providing transformative support to low-income students who have little to no guidance applying to college. Staff and trained volunteers work hands-on with high school students at ScholarMatch's drop-in center in the Mission District, through partnerships with high schools, and online with virtual resources. Free services are open to any low-income student and include: 1-on-1 college coaching, weekly college access group workshops, individual financial aid counseling and FAFSA support, free ACT and SAT test preparation, college visits, parent meetings and more.
Crowdfunded Scholarships: ScholarMatch's crowdfunded scholarship program matches donors with students who need their financial support. Nominated by local partners, ScholarMatch scholars maximize their financial aid and draw modest student loans, but still face a gap between their resources and the full cost of attendance. ScholarMatch's ‘last-dollar’ scholarships close this gap, averaging just $2,700 per student. In their sixth year of operation, ScholarMatch will have awarded over one million in scholarship dollars.
College to Career: Providing support from freshman year all the way to college graduation and beyond. College to Career provides comprehensive transition and academic support, case management, and community building opportunities. On average, ScholarMatch students complete their freshman year of college with a 3.0 GPA. 90% of ScholarMatch college students persist, compared to the national average of 67% for students from similar backgrounds.
The ScholarMatcher is a free online tool created by ScholarMatch and launched in 2015 that revolutionizes the college search process for low-income students. This user-friendly tool is powered by analysis of thousands of college data points, yet instantly provides students with a curated list of excellent institutions. With just a few clicks, students can create a college application list full of schools that they are academically suited for and where they are most likely to thrive, even though many of these schools were previously unknown to them. The ScholarMatcher is easy to use and includes supplemental materials to help with the application process, perfect for students navigating this road on their own. The ScholarMatcher is used by students, high schools, and other community organizations across the country.
Using College Scorecard data and a formula created by ScholarMatch staff, over 1,400 colleges and universities across the country were scored on four areas to give them a "GPA" oh how well they do supporting low income students. Criteria looked at included financial aid, academic strength, student support services, and post-graduate success. Only schools that scored above a specific threshold are included in the ScholarMatcher tool, a list of schools referred to as the "College Honor Roll". In 2015, only 298 schools were included in the Honor Roll and ScholarMatcher.
The ScholarMatcher has received recognition by the White House, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and EdSurge.
A new version of the ScholarMatcher including a revised selection of colleges and universities and additional search and filter features will launch in the fall of 2016.
ScholarMatch works with low-income and first-generation high school and college students. Each year, ScholarMatch serves over 600 students and gives out over $300,000 in scholarship dollars.