Nonprofit College Possible Gets $1M for Nat’l Growth

The Minnesota nonprofit will use the funding from venture philanthropy fund New Profit to pursue a plan to grow nationally and reach 20,000 students annually.

College Possible-a St. Paul-based nonprofit that helps low-income students earn a college degree-has been selected to receive $1 million from a national venture philanthropy fund that's known for taking organizations like Teach for America national.

College Possible, which used to be called Admission Possible, will receive the funding from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based New Profit, Inc., over a four-year period that begins in 2012. It will also receive strategic consulting services from Monitor, an international firm that provides strategic advisory, capability-building, and capital services to facilitate growth.

College Possible provides low-income students with an intensive curriculum of coaching and support in order to help them gain admission to and succeed in college. Founded in 2000, it is currently working with 8,700 students in the Twin Cities; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Omaha, Nebraska.

The support from New Profit will help the organization pursue a plan to extend its reach into additional U.S. cities and reach 20,000 students annually-which could occur as early as 2015. The funding will also enable College Possible to work on strategies to change the policies and systems that create a “college-going gap” between low-income students and their upper-income counterparts.

“This really is like getting called up to the big leagues within the nonprofit sector, and we are thrilled to receive this sort of support from New Profit at such a critical time,” College Possible CEO and founder Jim McCorkell said in a statement. “With such an effective solution for individuals and communities, we feel we have a mandate to reach as many young people across the country as possible. This partnership with New Profit is going to provide the momentum for us to aggressively pursue our vision of a day when the future of America's children is determined solely by their talent, motivation, and effort.”

New Profit provides multi-year financial and strategic support to a portfolio of social entrepreneurs working in education, poverty alleviation, work force development, and other areas. It has an extensive due diligence process for the organizations in which it invests-of which there have been just 32 since its founding in 1998.

College Possible was invited to apply to join the New Profit investment portfolio and then underwent a rigorous, three-round selection process over a six-month period. The organization said that New Profit evaluated its aspirations and mission, the data driving its advancement, its direct impact on the students it serves, the impact of its goals, and its leaders' alignment around a collective mission.

Among College Possible's accomplishments: 98 percent of the high school seniors it has worked with have earned admission to college, and the juniors it has served have collectively raised their ACT scores by more than 20 percent.