January 7, 2022

An overlooked opportunity with CBOs: How to reach students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds


Sujoy Roy

Learn about the importance of partnerships with community based organizations in reaching low-income and first-generation students.

With a shift towards test-optional for most colleges and universities in the United States, we are likely to see fewer low-income students taking the SAT or ACT in the coming years. This shift makes it more difficult for institutions to identify, reach, and engage with students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. 

This shift is not necessarily harmful but will require a change in how admissions leaders think of student engagement at the grassroots level. Thankfully, CBOs (Community Based Organizations) have been working for decades to help low-income and first-generation students access higher education. The work of CBOs has bridged the gap between secondary and postsecondary education that is necessary for the success of the students and their communities.

At VisitDays, we recognize that CBOs are critical to the success of higher education institutions looking to expand access and increase opportunities for students who need it the most. In 2021 our partnership with Philadelphia Futures, a CBO based in Philadelphia, PA, allowed hundreds of students to engage directly with institutions around the country—from their phones or computers. Philadelphia Futures is one of the most prominent CBOs, mainly supporting low-income and first-generation college-seeking students. With a 100% high school graduation rate, compared to 81.2% in Philadelphia Public Schools, and a 99% college matriculation rate, Philadelphia Futures is one of the best.

Aside from state schools or schools close to their homes, most students will not learn about other options until submitting an application. At this point, students miss this critical and potentially life-altering information. At the same time, some colleges and universities may not have relationships with CBOs that could have ideal fit students that would fit to enhance their class. 

VisitDays' college access program aims to bridge the gap between the two and enable students direct access to the admissions counselors that will help them through the application and admission process.

With over 15,000 CBOs in the United States alone, this is a significant source of incredibly talented and motivated students looking for the next step in their education. We couldn’t be prouder of having partners like Philadelphia Futures. 

If you are interested in learning more about how our program can help build relationships with CBOs, please schedule a call to chat with one of our team members.