ScholarMatch’s mission is to support first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds to earn a bachelor’s degree within five years. We provide virtual individualized advising, targeted financial support, and career mentoring all the way to graduation.
ScholarMatch aims to leverage new technologies and virtual advising to deliver high-quality personalized support to first-generation students from low-income backgrounds. Our goal is for students to be able to successfully access and navigate college and graduate within five years with a pathway to a fulfilling career.
To minimize barriers to access, we meet the needs of college-aspiring students with a minimum GPA of 2.0 and offer support with the college application process. The high school participants are invited to apply to our college comprehensive five-year scholarship and/or wrap-around services, the Scholars Program. Leveraging our expertise in the California college landscape, we provide services to students at high schools and public or regional colleges with the fewest resources. We are student-centered in our approach and use data to inform the continuous improvement of our student services.
ScholarMatch’s program services span a seven-year continuum to support first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds throughout their entire college journey. Beginning in the summer of their junior year in high school, we deliver targeted online support to students who are the first in their family to attend college through our high school program. These students are paired one-on-one with trained volunteer college coaches who support them with every step of the college application and financial aid process, utilizing our ScholarMatch College-Ready Milestones as a guide.
Eligible students are then encouraged to apply to our Scholars Program to receive continued support throughout college. Through a holistic, comprehensive approach, our Scholars Program students receive the critical combination of one-on-one advising by staff, targeted financial support that is flexible and responsive to students’ unique needs, and career mentoring to support their paths to college graduation and into a meaningful career.
At ScholarMatch, 80 percent of our scholars who participate in the full program graduate with their bachelor’s degree within five years—which is almost four times the national six-year graduation rate for first-generation college students. Since our founding in 2010, ScholarMatch has served thousands of students in California and nationwide, awarded over $5,000,000 in college scholarships, and engaged thousands of community supporters. In 2020-21 we served more than 1,500 high school and college students, awarded over $1.3M in college scholarships, and engaged over 520 volunteers.
WHAT COLLABORATION LOOKS LIKE
ScholarMatch staff contribute to the Steering Committee as well as the Policy, Campus Partnerships, Workforce Partnerships, and Communities of Practice committees since our program model connects with all aspects of the NCCPC’s work. In addition to collaborating in these productive spaces, we enthusiastically share NCCPC resources and opportunities with our students and community network.
GOALS FOR 2022 AND BEYOND
We aim to leverage our fully virtual program model so that our free resources are accessible to even more first-generation college students across the country. By removing geographic barriers, we can expand our services to reach more students in other parts of California and nationwide, including rural areas and other far-flung regions where commuting would be a hurdle for students and volunteers. This virtual model also allows us the flexibility to pair students with mentors based on their shared interests and backgrounds despite their location. This matching process usually results in successful advising, fostering long-lasting connections between students and coaches. Our typical virtual high school student profile is one that has limited time to engage in after school/weekend programs because they have to take care of younger siblings, work after school and/or have a long commute home.
We have also redesigned our targeted financial support for our college scholars to be more flexible and responsive to our students’ needs. We are also in the planning stages of designing a program model to service the community college population as well.
WHY NCCPC AND WHY NOW
Our goals for NCCPC are similar—to provide even more access to first-generation college students through collaborations and sharing of promising practices among community-based organizations, to remain responsive to students’ needs, and be inclusive of student voices through ongoing advocacy work.