Arlington, VA- Common App, the non-profit membership organization dedicated to access, equity and integrity in the college admissions process, today announced that they have been awarded a $350,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation and a $25,000 grant from the Michelson 20mm Foundation that will be used to improve crucial support provided to underrepresented students throughout the nation, including aiding students who have started but not completed a college application and helping students navigate the scholarship process and secure additional financial aid.

The grants will be used for three initiatives, including:

Predictive Model for Underrepresented Students 

While most students embark on the college application process intending to submit their applications, many do not. A portion of this grant will be used to develop a predictive model to anticipate who those students will be each year and what are the barriers preventing them from completing a college application. Improving Common App’s ability to identify such students will help to deliver effective interventions at crucial points in the application process.

Supporting Students in the Scholarship Application Process

According to the  U.S. Department of Education, minority students represent about a third of students enrolled in full-time bachelor’s degree programs at four-year colleges and universities, but only a quarter of private scholarship recipients. According to ‘The Distribution of Grants and Scholarships by Race’ by Mark Kantrowitz, white students receive 76% of all institutional merit-based scholarship and grant funding, even though they represent less than 62% of the student population. White students are 40% more likely to win private scholarships than minority students. 

To address this disparity, Common App will explore how to leverage its existing infrastructure to support students throughout the process of identifying and applying for scholarships.

Impact of Reach Higher’s Digital Awareness Campaigns 

Finally, the grant will also be used to spearhead a rigorous, quasi-experimental study to examine the relationship between social media outputs produced by Reach Higher, Common App’s college access awareness campaign originally founded by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time in the White House, and improving college access and persistence outcomes. To date, Reach Higher’s hashtags have generated over four billion social media impressions. The study will establish if such outputs translate into improved college access and persistence outcomes for students.

“As an organization committed to improving college access for all students, we are sincerely grateful to the Kresge Foundation and the Michelson 20mm Foundation for giving us this opportunity to invest in our applicants,” said Jenny Rickard, President and CEO of Common App. “We look forward to using this grant to continue increasing access for underrepresented students, and help them overcome barriers to college.” 

“Because Generation Z is the first generation of true digital natives, understanding how they access, value, and utilize digital information is vital so we can  learn how to leverage these platforms to help students make informed decisions about life after high school,” said Eric Waldo, Vice President of Access and Equity at Common App. “Reach Higher inspires confidence and celebrates a college-going culture, especially for underrepresented students, and we thank the Kresge Foundation and the Michelson 20mm Foundation for giving us the opportunity to measure tangible results on the impact of our efforts”

About Common App 

Common App is a not-for-profit member organization committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process. Each year, more than one million students, one-third of whom are first-generation, apply to college through the Common App’s online application. In January 2019, the Common App united with Reach Higher, the college access and success campaign started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House. Its core programming, including Better Make Room, UpNext, College Signing Day, Beating the Odds, school counselor support, and current grants continues as part of the Common App’s work with its member institutions, school counselors, and students. Founded in 1975, Common App serves nearly 900 member colleges and universities worldwide. 

To learn more, visit, and follow @CommonApp and #CommonApp on social media.

About the Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit

About the Michelson 20mm Foundation

Founded in 2010 by Dr. Gary K. Michelson,  the Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that equitable educational opportunities that lead to meaningful careers are accessible to all.  At the cutting edge of higher education, the foundation helps forward-thinking entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and organizations close the opportunity gap. Stimulating change through advocacy, grant making, and venture philanthropy, the foundation aims to support students at every step of their journey, from enrollment to life post-graduation.