Access to opportunities for students by students.
Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
08 / 15 / 2017
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
Our founders come from either low-income or first generation backgrounds or were students of large public high school, and we all spent hundreds of hours looking for opportunities to make college possible. We were the exceptions that navigated such a broken search process, and we are building a product that students desperately need. We are stepping up to make change because we believe that the education system should not be based on money and privilege but rather equitable access to opportunity to make college possible.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Fifteen million public high school students face an average counselor ratio of 1:491, and only 46% of low-income students go to college. Low-income students are now the majority in US public high schools, and these students have part-time jobs, family obligations, and schoolwork and don’t have weeks to devote to searching for resources. There’s a clear need for affordable opportunities presented in an efficient manner to help students grow.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Peerlift (www.peerlift.org) is a student-run 501c (3) nonprofit organization and online platform that connects high schoolers to six different categories of opportunities: scholarships, summer programs, internships, study abroad programs, awards, and college fly-in programs. Peerlift is the best way for underserved high school students to discover opportunities for college outside of their local communities. We crowdsource scholarships, internships, summer programs, and more from past student winners, and then curate the results to only display the most valuable opportunities. In addition, all opportunities featured ensure financial aid.
As the first virtual upperclassman, Peerlift is a peer-to-peer resource students turn to for honest information and advice. We’ll guide 9th to 12th grade students from when they first search for opportunities to when they apply. As college freshmen, we know how broken the search for opportunities really is, and we’re committed to bringing Peerlift to every public high school in the United States.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
Jess is a low-income, first generation sophomore from Detroit, Michigan. She is super passionate about service, so she wanted to pursue that over the summer. She can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars, so she goes on to www.peerlift.org because she knows every opportunity offers financial aid. She uses filters to narrow down her search and learns about each service opportunity through in-depth description pages. She can save ones that she’s interested in to her account. Once it comes time to actually apply for the service trips, she can message us in real time with any questions that she may have.
We provide students an easy way to find valuable opportunities in seconds. Jess is part of the thousands of students that benefit from Peerlift, finding programs to pursue their passions and make college possible.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Our competitors are for-profit companies run by people removed from the college process. Their business models built on selling data or gaining site traffic with little incentive to provide long-term value.
As students, we are familiar with the headaches of the process, and address them by curating our own opportunities that our student ambassador network (124 Students today) shares to the communities that need them the most.
We’ve brought a peer-to-peer model of sharing opportunities and advice to an industry that’s seen no significant disruption for 10 years.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Peerlift launched in mid-September and now reaches over 25,000 users, growing roughly 50% month over month. We measure our impact by how many students apply to opportunities on Peerlift, and on average each user saves 6 opportunities to their account. We’ve connected with 14 of the largest scholarship and resource foundations for high school students, with around 100,000 applications each.
More important than numbers are the individual people who have shared their Peerlift experience with us. One of our users Tiana Muniz said “Searching for scholarships and different opportunities is never a simple task, especially for students with low income, like me. Peerlift made my journey easier. Scrolling down the different opportunities made me confident in my future; that I was on the right track to success.”
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Peerlift has already changed the lives of over 25,000 people across the country, but we can do more. Our team has outlined long-term goals and new features that ensure a larger reach and more impact.
We are an on the ground resource and want to expand locally and nationally to accommodate as many students as we can everywhere in the US. In light of this, we are dedicated to growing our Students Ambassador network to all 50 states, developing algorithms to scrape the internet for local opportunities, and meaningfully connecting students on our platform. We have our minds in everything from virtual assistants to machine learning to provide our users with the best experience and the best results.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
In order to reach more students and make a larger impact we need to keep developing our technology, our team, and our presence across the country. In order to accomplish this we need funds, connections, and exposure.
We have ambitious goals to expand the mission, but are limited by the resources we currently have, we have been operating without any funds for months. Peerlift wants to have educational materials to give directly to schools and community centers. We want exposure to reach many more students around the US, and we want to make strategic partners to make a stronger impact in the communities that we serve.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations between $1k-$5k
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
Peerlift reaches and acquires the majority of its users through our Student Ambassador Network, strategic partnerships, and word of mouth. We launched our Network 3 months ago, and since then have grown from 18 to 125 students in 22 states. Each one of these SAs then brings on an average of 264 new students. We’re now growing our network to reach 1000 Student Ambassadors over the next 3 months. Most of our Student Ambassadors are students in high school and they share Peerlift in their local communities with principals, school boards, and other students. Our entire team is made up of high school and college volunteers and are extremely passionate about education equality and access to higher education.
Peerlift is dedicated to improving our own platform as much as it is dedicated to helping students across the United States. We understand that we cannot do this alone. Peerlift is constantly looking for student leaders who are passionate about education equality and to help us rethink our goals and priorities.
We want to build relationships with like minded individuals and organizations to expand the mission into new locations, new endeavors, and new heights.
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Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
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