Q2 2016: Students First

Over the weekend on Facebook, I noticed a picture from three years ago. It showed PelotonU’s third enrollment party — back before Sarah, Khan, or our office — when we gathered with 6 new students on the roof of Whole Foods to celebrate their college aspirations.

June 2013 Enrollment Party

June 2013 Enrollment Party

A lot has changed since then. We stopped offering housing, became co-ed, lifted the age cap,and began working with College for America (CFA). What’s remained consistent is that when we make decisions, students come first.

Our first priority is to be accountable to you — for finances, student support, communications, and community. You are our most important stakeholder, and it’s in that spirit that we want to begin offer you details on how we’re doing, what we’re learning, and what’s coming up.

I hope you learn, are proud of our community, and see ways we can better serve you. So — here’s the first of many quarterly updates.

Our Goals For You

Persistence — 87% of students who began college with PelotonU are still enrolled or have finished. In Texas, only 28% of students pursuing Bachelor’s degree students graduate on-time.

Time to Degree — 15 months is the projected time to degree for the 27 students in the College for America Associate’s track. That’s 3x the pacecompared to full-time AA students in Texas.

Completion— 3 students succesfully finished the program. Another 7 have earned 60 credits or your AA and are continuing for your Bachelor’s.

On-Track — 94% of students will earn their Bachelor’s in four years or less. For Central Texas students who attend part-time, the rate is only 16%.

Enrollment — 38 students are studying with PelotonU (with 22 more in provisional). Enrollment is up 138% from 16 students this time last year.


We raised $67, 231 over the past three months. $2,005 came from y’all, $60,266 from 48 local donors, and $5,000 from an Austin foundation.

We spent $64,715, with 83% going directly to students. I’m happy to show you our income statement if you enjoy details.

The big expenses are salaries and rent. $9,119 in scholarships supported 15 students, $1,019 funded student resources, and $3,482 covered operating expenses like insurance, donation fees, staff support, and recurring costs.

What’s New

We recently launched What a Thing Videos. They’re light-hearted student updates where we celebrate small victories and cheer for big milestones.

Reagan started Finally, Finish College — a workshop to introduce prospective students to PelotonU and the various other education options in Austin. This Fall, we plan to take the show on the road with partner employers.

You’ve probably noticed the office filling up this week with our latest cohort of students. We hope to add a second location in South Austin this Fall, but it’s tricky. We’re still deciding location, staffing, cost, and hours. Let your CCA know what you’d like to see.

Where We’re Headed

We recently won a $30,000 grant from the Shield-Ayres Foundation and $10,000 from the Long Foundation. We’re also pursuing some big grants to improve student recruitment and grow PelotonU outside Austin.

Here in town, folks are impressed with y’alls hard work and have offered to help. GoodPop provided dessert for the last enrollment party, and Charity Charge filmed Sarah bragging about y’alls perseverance.

Going forward, expect some exciting and helpful changes to the support model. We want to offer just enough support, just as long as you need it. That means hours and mentor meetings will be tied to your progress in college, and they’ll diminish as you demonstrate independence, rather than hitting the “one year” mark at PelotonU.

You’re also getting some local press. Rex Gore, our board member, wrote an op-ed in the Statesman about your hard work, and our City of Austin students were highlighted in the City’s newsletter (page 11). Nationally, CFA was highlighted for their innovative curriculum in this EdSurge article.

How You Can Help

Refer a friend. Y’all nominated 26 students last cycle (and will soon get your pens as a reward!). Think about friends who haven’t graduated from college — do they want to earn a promotion, change careers, or prove to their family and themselves they can earn their degree?

If so, let Sam know or nominate them here.

Tell us how we can better serve you. Next time you’re chatting with family about college and think “if only PelotonU would…”, come tell us! We’ll do our best to make it happen. Expect the second student feedback survey this week, that’s another great place to share feedback.

It’s about y’all, at the beginning and end of the day. Thank you for working hard and helping us build something special—

The PelotonU Team