14 Mar BridgeEdU Springing Forward
Our founder, Wes Moore, is known by many titles– New York Times best-selling author, combat officer, investment banker, Obama campaigner, CEO, and family man to name a few- but what sticks in my mind after working with him is his attitude, which is best captured in a question he regularly asks: “What’s next?” Wes constantly looks for ways to shepherd his focus and work forward. So, it is no surprise that his company, BridgeEdU is doing the same.
Three years ago, Black Enterprise published the article, “Reinventing Freshman Year to Ensure Student Retention,” which looked back on BridgeEdU’s pilot year with Wes. The piece, which chronicles the company’s origin, design, and initial success metrics, provides a convenient framework for reflecting on BridgeEdU’s progress.
Four years ago, Wes Moore launched BridgeEdU to support students denied higher education because they lacked the necessary resources to complete school. He personally provided the funding to launch this bridge experience for students and maximize their chances of graduating. Since the launch, continued support for the program from “founding angels,” as Wes calls them, continues to grow the company’s impact and resources.
Today, the BridgeEdU team is more hopeful than ever. As we dive deeper into the challenges that reinforce student achievement gaps, we identify more opportunities for intervention– but our founding purpose endures: empower students to reach their dreams through personalized and data-driven coaching and robust tech-based solutions.
BridgeEdU’s mission was largely developed as Wes wrote his second New York Times best-selling book, The Work, which explores what makes work meaningful. Wes shared that conducting research for the book brought him to, “the people who did not wait for permission to follow their passion… people who are willing to figure out how to make plan A work.” He knew education acted as a gateway to following his own passion, but research brought him up close to its scale and power. The ability to access education remains crucial for an individual’s ability to develop and pursue their plan A. Wes’ inquiry also revealed systemic opportunity gaps that make access to quality education more difficult for students already lacking resources such as food security, comprehensive financial advising (covering the long-term responsibilities associated with paying for college), transportation, and community support.
A Rhodes scholar trained in economics, Wes examined the statistics to identify opportunities for action, “we don’t have a college completion crisis per se; what we have is a freshman year crisis. That’s when schools lose the lion’s share of their students. Nearly 30% of students drop out during or after their first year of college, usually because of cost, academic skill gaps, and social fit.” So Wes organized a team to reinvent a freshman year experience with the mission to close success gaps for underserved scholars.
Black Enterprise’s reflection with Wes Moore on BridgeEdU’s first year identified the program goals, demographic served, and how we hoped to measure success. We are excited to share our focus has endured while our methods and impact continue to evolve.
BridgeEdU’s goals for driving impact remain: helping students to persist past barriers to retention, ensuring that they apply for and receive the financial aid they qualify for, and assisting their ability to develop social capital.
The inaugural class and demographic described in the article still reflect the students BridgeEdU serves today, and we are excited to share continued success with the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). Forty-eight percent of BridgeEdU’s 2016-2017 CCBC students matriculated at other post-secondary institutions their second college year, and 19% are continuing at CCBC for the second year. Overall, the CCBC students who were part of the BridgeEdU program showed a 67% fall-to-fall retention, which is 12% greater than CCBC’s retention rate. Additionally, BridgeEdU is achieving success with other institutional partners, like Coppin State University.
How are we achieving and growing our success? BridgeEdU’s team is committed to studying and developing best practices to better serve our scholars. BridgeEdU’s data science team, for example, is identifying that data gathering methodology and coaching intervention design must remain in constant conversation to effectively support our students. “You cannot automate your way out of the hard work of improving student retention,” shares our Sr. VP of Product Development, Dave Demsky. BridgeEdU’s technology, therefore, focuses on gathering key performance indicators (KPIs) that position coaches to have more meaningful conversations with scholars and drive targeted support strategies.
Our team is also strengthening methods for supporting each scholar’s holistic development, which is necessary for achieving academic success. While reflecting on BridgeEdU’s first year, Wes explained, “many students don’t have the inherent or family lineage-generated social capital that can turn success into opportunities… we want to change that.”
And we are. BridgeEdU’s custom approach is proving its ability to mitigate barriers to success for students of promise and achieve momentum and persistence through a four-pillar model: technology-enabled success coaching, targeted academic support, personalized financial aid consulting, and career development through experiential learning. You can access our latest white paper here to learn more about BridgeEdU’s signature, holistic approach to student retention.
Curious about partnering with BridgeEdU? Access our free ROI calculator to see how BridgeEdU can help you reach your institution’s goals.