While a student at Stanford University, Garrett Nieman worked as an SAT tutor and found it pretty lucrative. But it also opened his eyes to the inequity in access to prep for college-admissions testing.
To help low-income students improve their scores on the SAT and their college-admissions chances, Nieman co-founded a nonprofit organization now known as CollegeSpring (formerly SEE College Prep). Fellow Stanford student Jessica Perez is the co-founder. The venture got off the ground in 2008 while they were still in school, but formally launched in June 2010.
With the push for college completion, particularly among first-generation students, CollegeSpring may be a model to follow. It currently operates only in California, but there are plans to expand to other markets, including New York, within the next year or so.
CollegeSpring is funded with philanthropic support from the Packard Foundation, the Keck Foundation, Coleman Fung, Mindy Rogers, Tom Friel, and others. It also generates revenue from the schools it partners with that pay for the test-prep and college-mentoring services for their students—typically about $100 per student.
The San Francisco-based organization contracts mainly with charter schools serving low-income students to provide an 80-hour SAT-prep program to all high school juniors in the school. Teachers and college students are hired to deliver the training, which can take place during the academic year or in an accelerated summer program.