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A History of Gratefulness at PelotonU

I was at a birthday party last Sunday for Zoe, a friend who has been instrumental in PelotonU’s growth. As she blew out the candles, I looked around and realized her twenty guests were strangers two years ago, and now we were friends. At some point, nearly every guest had taken a meeting, made an introduction, shot down an idea, or listened to my fears — and I had done the same for them. Without them, we wouldn’t have made it this far. For PelotonU to come this far we needed each of them, because it takes a village to build a...

PelotonU 2015 Q3 Update

It’s a rainy Saturday in November, and I’m sitting at the office wondering which story to tell. On the one hand, we’ve made more progress in the past three months than in the previous six. We doubled in size, exceeded our Q2 metrics on every indicator, partnered with two top online universities, built a student-focused website, and moved into our first office. On the other hand, we’re also in a season of reflection. Our team is convinced — more so than ever before — that working students need a better way to earn their degree, and our approach is the most effective and affordable...

Gaby’s Story

Gaby ignored her Breakthrough Austin advisor, Byron, for a long time. She was sure that her plan to get certified as a Medical Assistant through Southern Careers Institute was the right path for her, so when Byron first told her about PelotonU, she wasn’t interested. “I thought I had a good plan in place, that I was on the track I wanted.” But as her teachers quit and the $700 per month tuition caught up to her, Gaby began to reconsider. “I realized I wasn’t getting a good education at Southern Careers — especially not for how much I was paying. Plus,...

PelotonU 2015 Q2 Update

We have spent the past year developing a more nuanced understanding of the students we can effectively serve, building and replicating high-quality support, and mapping the path to greater impact and financial sustainability. Here’s our first report from the field. Want to help us continue providing hard-working adults in Central Texas a pathway t o a college degree? Contribute towards our work or suggest PelotonU to a local employer. Details on both options below. As you can see, we are well on our way and picking up steam. Key Performance Indicators 18 students This includes nine students enrolled in college and nine who...

Who Do You Serve First?

Teddy Roosevelt famously once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” For a start up like us, this triggered an important question in the early stages of forming our higher education non-profit. What can we actually do right now with what we have? In short: with limited staff, money and time to demonstrate our viability, let’s serve students with the smallest barriers to college now so we can serve students with more complex barriers later. Early in our formation, we tried to achieve our mission of helping working students graduate from college on-time and debt-free in a...

A Crash Course in PelotonU

We’re PelotonU, a higher-education non-profit and scrappy start-up based in Austin, TX. Here’s what we do, why we do it and what keeps us up at night. The Problem In Central Texas, 4,000 students start and drop out of college every year — that’s before you even count the 30% of local high school graduates (around 4,200 students) who intend to enroll in college and never do. Locally, only 28% of of high school graduates earn a certificate, Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in six years. If you come from a low-income family, that number drops to 12% for ANY credential — we’re not even talking...

Community College For All?

Community colleges are a crucial part of the higher education landscape. With nearly 1,000 institutions and over thirteen million students, they have an important mandate and offer a variety of affordable educational pathways for students, and especially for low-income learners. Unfortunately, President Obama’s free community college proposal misses the mark: it provides a solution to the wrong question, because tuition isn’t the problem. Tuition and student debt have both risen significantly over the past decade, but the majority of this increase has been at four year universities and for-profit colleges. Prices have risen more modestly at community colleges and Pell...