These days, if you aren’t using technology to communicate with college students, then you probably aren’t reaching them. Thankfully, one nonprofit company has developed a customizable app-based approach to help students adopt key behaviors that will lead to success at college. Now – more than ever – first-generation students need help to persist to completion of their degree. Thanks to a partnership between Achieve Hartford and Capital Community College, the 11-year-old nonprofit, Beyond 12, is now working alongside Capital staff to build out the right mix of content and incentives within the app to drive key student behaviors. Launching this month, it’s designed to lead to better persistence outcomes for all Capital students.   
How will it work?  

All Capital Community College students will be asked to download the Beyond 12 app, GradGuru, which will text students reminders about academic, financial aid and course registration deadlines, as well as steps required for college transfers and ways to connect to campus resources.

“With many needs and limited funding, this is a service our students need that we could not afford to offer,” says Jason Scappaticci, Capital’s dean of students. “We’re grateful to Achieve Hartford for purchasing GradGuru on behalf of our students.”  
The app sends out one to three nudges or reminders a day to some 50,000 students from 19 community colleges. With campuses shut down because of the pandemic, the app provides colleges an effective way to communicate with their students.  Early results from its use at community colleges throughout California are promising: 70 percent of students recommend GradGuru to their classmates; 65 percent report an impact on meeting more deadlines; and 54 percent of daily nudges are opened.  
How did we get here?  

With the ALL IN! Coalition focusing not just on college readiness and enrollment, but also college persistence, Achieve Hartford has been looking around the country to see what is working and what tools could become even more important in the era of virtual learning. Having piloted peer mentoring at three colleges last fall as part of the ALL IN! Coalition’s Campus Retention action team, this summer presented the first opportunity for Achieve Hartford to take that pilot to scale at CCC and MCC, starting in August. Piloting a technology solution this school year was an additional step we could take to deepen the partnership with higher ed and learn what works.
In addition to the app, the partnership with Beyond 12 allows Achieve Hartford and CCC to use a real-time, Beyond 12 data system called Alumni Data Tracker to monitor the progress of Hartford Public Schools graduates attending CCC.   

“The data tracking feature will help Achieve Hartford keep track of all Hartford Public Schools graduates, including those whom we mentor through our College Persistence program and those we don’t,” says Paul Diego Holzer, executive director. “We can compare each cohort and follow them through their community college years and beyond.” 
The partnership is the first in Connecticut for Beyond 12, which was founded by a first-generation student to help others overcome the challenges she faced.  
“We are thrilled to partner with Achieve Hartford and Capital Community College to ensure that Hartford students have the tools to not only obtain post-secondary degrees but to also translate those degrees into meaningful employment and choice-filled lives,” says Alexandra Bernadotte, founder and CEO. “We share Achieve Hartford’s commitment to build a strong talent pipeline for the state and region. Through our platform, we will track longitudinal student outcomes and share data and insights to help inform the work of Achieve Hartford’s cross-sector collaborators.” 
About Beyond 12  

Beyond 12 is a high-tech, high-touch coaching platform that helps high schools, college access programs and colleges provide their students with the academic, social and emotional support they need to succeed in higher education. Founded in 2009, Beyond 12 works to dramatically increase the number of historically under-represented students who graduate from college.