As the founder and leader, I organize and lead our programs to help low-income students access and succeed in higher education.

Photo of Curran Chopra
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  • Technology

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth


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3019281543 10628 Rivers Bend Lane MD: Potomac (20854)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Date You Started Your Project Started

June / 30 / 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

During the 2014-2015 school year, of the 5,306 SAT and ACT test takers in DC public high schools, only 14.9% reached “college readiness”. Through 4 years of high school, students only receive 38 minutes of college admissions advice from their guidance counselor. Without adequate standardized testing preparation and support from counselors, low-income students lack the guidance and resources they need to access and succeed in higher education.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

College Knowledge works to provide low-income students in the DC area with standardized testing preparation and college application guidance through tutoring and mentorship from local undergraduate students. Our organization partners with DC public high schools (whose students have an average SAT score before the national average) to lead weekly college application workshops for the high schools students. During the sessions, university students will tutor and mentor the high school students through standardized testing preparation and the college application process. We led a standardized testing preparation class for students at Columbia Heights Education during the past summer. College Knowledge is currently orchestrating workshops at two local DC high schools and libraries during which the college students offer college application essay writing support to high school seniors.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

During the summer after tenth grade, I volunteered at an enrichment program Horizons Greater Washington where I taught underprivileged K-9 children through STEM, reading, and swimming activities. At this time, I was also studying for the SAT by attending a prep course that was priced near a thousand dollars. While teaching lower and middle school underprivileged children and participating in a standardized testing course, I realized that there are countless low-income high school students who could not afford the same resources to prepare for standardized testing. Thus, I commenced to learn more about the problem and I launched a venture to offer underprivileged students the materials and guidance to prepare for standardized testing and apply to college.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” (Nelson Mandela). I believe in the power of education to transform lives. I have committed myself to supporting the education and empowerment of underprivileged students. As a volunteer at Horizons Greater Washington, I realized that there are countless low-income high school students who lack the guidance and resources to access college. My commitment to fight educational inequality inspired me to launch College Knowledge.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

We establish partnerships with local high schools and universities in order to organize and lead college application workshops during which college students mentor high school students. For example, I connected with the College Access Career Coordinators at Columbia Heights and Cardozo Education Campus. I work with the high school counselors to determine challenges students at the school face in the process of applying to college. Simultaneously, I reach out to the Directors of Community Engagement at local universities (in my case: American University, Howard University, and Trinity Washington University) to recruit college student volunteers to provide essay-writing support and college application guidance. Then, we planned and currently lead college application programs to best address the challenges of students, primarily through essay-writing support from university students.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

While many other college access programs focus solely on guiding select high-achieving low-income students, College Knowledge provides tutoring and mentorship to any high school student from our partner DCPS schools. Our program is also innovative because we lead programs during which college students offer college application guidance to high school students. Since the college students have recently applied to college, they understand the process in great detail and can relate with struggles their younger peers may face, which equips the college volunteers to provide the optimal mentorship.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far, College Knowledge has led a standardized testing preparation class for 20 high school seniors at Columbia Heights Education Campus. During weekly sessions, we provided over 10 hours of tutoring to each student to help develop stronger skills in mathematics, writing, and reading comprehension. College Knowledge is currently leading workshops this Fall season to support high school seniors at Columbia Heights and Cardozo Education Campuses through the process of writing college application essays. During the past year, College Knowledge has also recruited a volunteer corps consisting of students from Howard, American, and Georgetown Universities to assist in our current Fall program.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

College Knowledge's goals for the next year are to scale our initiatives and impact to level the college application field for students across the nation. Our first plan is to continue to establish connections with more DC universities with the goal of providing additional under-resourced high school students with mentorship from college student volunteers. We also plan to continue to develop our digital platform. The platform will connect high school students with a cohort of college students based upon their academic, extracurricular, and sports interests, allowing the collegians to offer their younger peers personalized advice on essays, standardized testing, financial aid, scholarships, and majors.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Management

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • 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?

  • Communities of color
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Mr. Boedicker from LearnServe International and Ashoka shared this opportunity with me. Thank you.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mikaela Bauer

You are providing invaluable assistance to underserved teens. Would love to see this program grow beyond DC. Best of luck to you!

Photo of Michael McPhie

Very inspiring, Curran!