Gates Foundation supports college readiness apps

By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor
September 28th, 2012

More than half of community college students require a remedial class.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is awarding upwards of $100,000 to developers who propose apps and online tools that help high school students prepare for college, fund their schooling, and complete the sometimes circuitous application process.

The College Knowledge Challenge started Sept. 27 at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., where 100 developers gathered for a “hack-a-thon”–an effort to create useful technologies aimed at better preparing incoming college students as the need for remedial classes continues to rise across the U.S.

Anyone can submit a proposal to the Gates Foundation through the organization’s website. Winners of the $2.5 million grant competition will be announced in January, according to the foundation.

Foundation officials said they would encourage web-based tools that incorporated social media platforms like Facebook, where low-income and first-generation college students might find a supportive academic peer group.

Other apps might help incoming students construct a four-year plan toward college graduation. Students from College Summit Northern California partner high schools will serve as advisers to the competition’s app developers.

The foundation has for years funded efforts to cut down on the growing need for remedial education in colleges and universities. Students don’t earn course credits in remedial classes, making higher education more expensive for tens of thousands of freshmen.

An ideal application would target college students who most often start their campus careers mired in remedial courses, said J.B. Schramm, founder and CEO of College Summit, a group working alongside the Gates Foundation in the College Knowledge Challenge.

“First generation and low-income families typically do not have access to the information, coaching, and support needed to navigate the college-going process,” said Frome. “A platform of electronic tools dedicated to confronting and solving the obstacles to postsecondary navigation and success is an exciting potential opportunity for all students, regardless of their economic circumstances.”

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2 Responses to “Gates Foundation supports college readiness apps”

October 5, 2012

Better to focus on computer assisted learning for middle and high schools that will help students prepare academically. 4 year schools should not admit students needing remedial education. Those students should be able to get remedial help at community colleges.

October 9, 2012

davef68, that’s a logical idea, but it hasn’t been effective enough in that students are showing up at both 2 and 4 year colleges underprepared. This Challenge appears to be aimed at meeting the immediate needs of those individual students. They are at the doors of college this semester and deserve to have their needs met, and we will all benefit if they obtain a degree. Another factor is that the curriculum continues to compact and the most prepared high school grads have the reading, writing and math and science knowledge and skills that are easily equivalent to what college juniors would have had just a decade ago. The gap between graduates of the well funded, agile, technologically competent districts have a much better chance at being prepared for college work. Unless an achievement gap continues inside a wealthier district and college preparation is predictably not obtained by specific and identifiable groups of students year after year after year. Lots of issues causing the problem and I am glad the Challenge is taking aim with an athlete’s focus on getting the job done NOW.

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