Coalition Announces Inaugural Innovation Grant Recipients

BURLINGTON, VT — In August, the Coalition for College announced that three of its member schools, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Vermont, and Virginia Tech, will receive its first-ever innovation grants.

Sparked by a generous gift from philanthropist and champion of educational innovation Ted Dintersmith, author of What School Could Be and executive producer of the acclaimed film Most Likely to Succeed, the Coalition’s innovation grant competition challenges members to propose creative ways to utilize the free MyCoalition resources to empower all students — and particularly first-generation, under-resourced, and lower-income students — to achieve their college dreams. The grantees have been awarded $33,000 each to implement their pilot projects during the 2018-19 academic year.

“Advancing technology and innovation in college admissions is a core strategy for furthering the Coalition's mission to make college a reality for all students,” explains Annie Reznik, executive director of the Coalition. “Our members have been at the forefront of establishing improved avenues for under-resourced students, and MyCoalition's flexible design offers an ideal space for devising pilot projects. We are grateful to Ted Dintersmith for the opportunity to support our members in this important work.”

The Coalition’s free online toolkit, MyCoalition (, is designed to engage students in the college application process early and easily. It is comprised of a convenient digital storage Locker, interactive Collaboration Space, and easy-to-use application, which is accepted at all member schools. The three winning grant proposals all highlight the Locker, and encourage students to use it to showcase their strengths and passions in ways that transcend traditional transcripts and test scores.

The University of Texas at Austin is embarking on a “MyCoalition in Texas” tour to promote MyCoalition resources across the state, with a particular focus on eight economically disadvantaged school districts in Central Texas. Emphasis will be placed on the value of early engagement strategies, so that students can begin high school with their college graduation in mind.

University of Vermont is partnering with Washington, D.C., public schools to pilot a “MyCoalition Scholars” program to help promising students better understand and navigate the college admission process. Participants will receive expert advice on a host of topics, including how to utilize the Locker to leverage aspects of their talents and backgrounds not covered by the standard metrics that typically favor more privileged students.

Virginia Tech is reinventing its admission process to elicit more revealing information about applicants’ abilities, achievements, and life experiences. As part of this initiative, Virginia Tech will educate students and their supporters on how to take advantage of MyCoalition tools to emphasize their strengths — including hands-on proficiencies that are not reflected in standardized tests — and express their creativity on their college applications.

“The single most important factor in what goes on in U.S. K-12 schools is the college admissions process. The more this process values students for creating authentic initiatives that effect positive change in their world, the better for millions of students and the future of our country,” notes Dintersmith. “I’m a big fan of the Coalition for College, and am excited about their commitment to sparking innovation in admissions offices across the country.”

The Coalition was founded in 2015 by a group of dedicated college leaders aiming to improve the college application process, particularly for those students from historically under-represented groups. Members include a diverse group of public and private colleges and universities that are united in their mission to support lower-income, under-resourced, and/or first-generation students; to provide responsible financial aid; and to bolster students’ success in college.

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