Edtech start-up focuses on connecting students with emergency aid

Edquity, a three-year-old education technology start-up, is expanding its money-management apps in hopes of helping financially vulnerable college students more effectively and efficiently obtain emergency aid. Recognizing how day-to-day financial issues create myriad problems for college students, Edquity has designed its system with low-income students in mind, originally offering financial planning tools.

However, it has become clear that money-management isn’t the issue for many students, says founder David Helene. Often, the problem is “students not having money to manage,” he told The Chronicle of Higher Education. For that reason, Edquity has developed a college-facing service to help institutions manage and disburse emergency aid, swiftly connecting funds with students in crisis. The app—free for students—allows them to discover resources, social-service agencies, and available discounts, both from national groups and near campus.

Just a few hundred students have used this app, but it will soon be tested on a much larger scale. In the fall, the Dallas County Community College system, which serves some 86,000 students, will use Edquity to help with its emergency aid programs.

Sara Goldrick-Rab joins effort as chief strategy officer

To oversee this expansion, the Brooklyn-based start-up has brought on one of the most influential voices in basic needs insecurity research, Temple University Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab. Goldrick-Rab, who is the founding director of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice and who developed the algorithm underpinning Edquity’s newest system, will serve as the start-up’s chief strategy officer for emergency aid while also continuing to carry out her role at Temple University and the Hope Center.

According to The Chronicle, the goal is to “replicate and digitize what a lot of colleges have done in a scrappy way.” One added bonus: automating the emergency aid process may “avert some of the shame that students might feel when applying for aid face-to-face,” notes The Chronicle’s Goldie Blumenstyk. She adds that it is “troubling” that “so many students have these emergency needs that a company sees a market” for apps like this.

GSP Necessity Fund Aims To Alleviate Stress Of Emergency Needs

The Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP) provides academic, co-curricular, professional development, and other support to help scholarship recipients acclimate and flourish. Separate from the financial aid award package that enables students to attend Georgetown University, GSP maintains a Necessity Fund—funded through alumni and supporter contributions—which provides additional grants to help scholarship students confronting expenses, including:

  • Emergency medical and dental needs
  • Professional development costs (graduate school test preparation, professional attire, conference fees, and interview travel)
  • Tutoring
  • Legal fees and DACA renewal fees for undocumented and DACA-mented students
  • Winter clothing needs
  • Transportation to visit family
  • Groceries during the academic year and breaks
  • Summer storage
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