PelotonU | Rethinking College
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About

pel·o·ton /ˈpeləˌtän / noun:

A peloton is a group working in unison to help one another achieve a goal that would be impossible individually

The Problem

Each year over a quarter of a million students graduate from Texas public high schools. Of these, less than 30% enroll in four-year colleges. More than half of freshmen who enroll never graduate, and those who do carry an average debt of $25,000 before interest. At the same time, 90% of the fastest growing jobs in Texas require post-secondary education.

 

What We Do

Since 2012, PelotonU has offered a higher education pathway for college students that blends online education and in person mentorship. The program provides students flexibility to study on their own time, opportunity to avoid debt, and exposure to experiences outside the classroom to broaden ongoing learning. Students come to the PelotonU office at Center61 for mentorship, tutoring, and life skills classes. They graduate with a clear plan to pursue their vocation. Here’s how we do it:

learn-icon  Scholarship

PelotonU provides a $4,000 annual scholarship to regionally-accredited and competency-based online universities. Students enroll for up to two years and are equipped to effectively finish their education after the program.

work-icon  Mentorship

PelotonU provides students a full-time mentor who offers accountability and insight for their personal development. The mentor works alongside each student to help them craft and execute a personalized learning plan.

live-icon  Lifeskills

PelotonU offers a two year supplemental curriculum. In their first year students master a series of leadership development competencies. In their second year they pursue a specialty with guidance from community leaders.

Admissions

Applications are due by May 9th. Classes start June 9th.

Our team is dedicated to making sure you graduate on-time and debt-free. Before you apply, remember PelotonU works exclusively with online universities. Online education, in contrast to a traditional classroom, is self-paced. This means successful students are self-motivated and independent learners. See if that’s you.

Admitted students are required to spend at least twelve hours per week at our office and participate in a sixty day provisional enrollment. This trial period allows students to get college-ready in math and become adjusted to online education. If you believe PelotonU can equip you to finish college, please complete the application below.

Process

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Begin Your Application

The average college student graduates with $25,000 in debt.

Donate

Your generosity provides hard-working college students debt-free education and a dedicated mentor.

PelotonU provides scholarships and additional support for first-generation college students. Students are paired with a mentor who guides them during their educational journey. Mentors meet weekly with students, teach life skills seminars, and provide tutoring.

Operational expenses are covered by local supporters to ensure the entirety of your donation pays for student education. We need your help to provide additional scholarships. Here’s some key costs:

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Donate Today

Our Team

Staff

Hudson Baird

Executive Director

An Austin native, Hudson graduated with a degree in Public Policy from Vanderbilt University and earned a Certificate of Journalism through an online program at the University of Massachusetts. Before PelotonU he co-founded a political advocacy startup and lived in Guatemala to help launch a rural community development organization.

James Hart

Director of Operations

Originally from San Antonio, James graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Liberty University, a leading online program. He spent four years in the Navy leading a team before completing a Master’s through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, another online program. James is married to Angela and they have two children, Josh and Noelle.

Advisory Board

Mark Hand

Advisory Board Member

Mark Hand is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at Saïd Business School. He cofounded the SBS Seed Fund, a fund that invests in startups launched at Oxford University. Previously, Mark was an Associate at First Light Ventures where they invested more than $2.5 million in twenty-six startups with a social or environmental purpose. Mark has a BA from Vanderbilt and an MBA from Saïd.

Austin Dannhaus

Advisory Board Member

Austin started working in education as a third grade teacher in the D.C. metro area. Following his time in the classroom, he started an after school program and currently works with education organizations as a public policy and strategy consultant. Austin grew up near Houston, graduated from the University of Texas, and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Candice DePrang Boehm

Advisory Board Chair

Candice, a graduate of the University of Texas, began her career at the Texas Capitol before joining Teach for America in 2007. After TFA, Candice was selected as a fellow at the Political Action Leadership Initiative before returning to Austin to lobby for education issues at the campus, district, and state level. She also volunteers with Austin Partners in Education and Austin Kids First.

Rex Gore

Founder & Board Member

A long-time entrepreneur and small business owner, Rex has managed a variety of businesses and spearheaded numerous charitable initiatives. After developing an education program for his employees, Rex determined to create a program which would help motivated students succeed in higher education. Rex and Deb, his wife of 28 years, have two sons.

Dana Zichlin

Advisory Board Member

Dana supervises volunteer engagement for PelotonU. Before moving to Austin she spent three years as Country Director in Guatemala for Manna Project International. In this capacity she managed annual residential teams with a $50,000 annual budget and supervised over one hundred yearly volunteers.

7.8% of full-time Associate’s students graduate in three years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What colleges do you work with?

We only offer scholarships for colleges that are both regionally-accredited and competency-based. At the moment, the two we endorse are Western Governors University and Patten University.

Why should I go to college online?

There’s three reasons we work with online universities. The first is that it’s flexible. Students learn as much from work as from school and we prioritize time to grow professionally as well as academically. Second, online education is personalized. Students are not constrained by class size or pace – they focus on the material that’s difficult and skim what they’ve already mastered. Last, online education facilitates professional growth. Research, self-management, and writing are all consistently reinforced for the online learner.

What is competency-based education?

Competency-based education is an alternative to traditional academic semesters where students learn at their own pace. Students who already know material can finish classes quicker and students who need remediation can take the time they need. This offers flexibility with each student’s work schedule and reinforces learning skills needed for many growing occupations. PelotonU’s mentors layer additional structure and accountability onto each academic program.

What do you teach in life skills?

We believe academics alone cannot fully prepare a student to thrive after college. As a result, we developed a three part-curriculum to supplement what our students learn in school. During provisional enrollment, students learn core skills necessary for self-directed online education. After enrollment, students begin a one year modular curriculum that covers various aspects of professional development. Often taught in partnership with local institutions, these topics include personal finance, public speaking, leadership, and online research. In their second year, students develop and execute a personalized apprenticeship.

Who else is doing this?

We’re keen on building an education community that serves students better than existing alternatives. Blending online learning and in-person mentorship has proved effective. Uncollege and Enstitute are two teams we respect with a similar model. Two others, who not only work towards the same solutions but who ask the same questions, are The Saxifrage School and Kepler Kigali. We read everything they write and hope to lead with the same degree of thoughtfulness.

How do I get involved?

Our students work with academic tutors and career specialists who help them create personalized growth plans. Email or call the number the contact information at the bottom of this page.

Jobs now require workers who possess proficiency in 21st-century skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving, and technology.

News

Online enrollment is growing annually at 12.9%.

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