Press Release (ePRNews.com) - RICHMOND, Calif. - Jun 30, 2020 - Bay Area nonprofit Rivet School — an accelerated, low-cost college program for working adults — announced that it had reached $3M in philanthropic funding, as it launched a new name and brand.
Rivet School combines online learning with personalized coaching to help students earn an accredited, job-focused bachelor’s degree in as little as two years, and for less than $10,000 — three times faster, and six times less expensive than a traditional pathway. Rivet School students can also pay no upfront tuition, and pay back only if and when they earn more than $40,000 per year.
Founded in 2018 as Concourse Education, Rivet School is one of a small handful of “hybrid colleges” across the country — organizations pairing online degrees with robust, real-world support.
Rivet School’s work takes on new meaning with COVID-19, as incumbent higher ed institutions scramble to serve students online. Research shows that students are more likely to drop out of online programs and that these programs widen preexisting achievement gaps.
Rivet School attacks this problem by combining a flexible, low-cost curriculum — offered through partners Southern New Hampshire University and Brandman University — with coaching, tutoring, a free laptop, cash stipends, and an emergency fund. Each coach supports just 50 students; by comparison, student-advisor ratios at community colleges can reach 1,700 to 1. And Rivet School specifically targets students who might otherwise struggle in a conventional online environment: Nearly all Riveters work full-time, over 80% are Black or Latinx, and nearly half are parents.
Rivet School’s early data suggests that the model is working; half of Riveters are on track to earn a BA, from scratch, in less than three years.
One Rivet School graduate, Alanza Mirabella, credits the program not only with helping her earn a long-deferred college degree but also with exposing her to new career possibilities: “I started looking for a degree and ended with dreams and a whole new outlook on life,” Mirabella said.
Rivet School’s philanthropic backers include well-known national funders like Google.org, NewSchools Venture Fund, the Walmart Foundation, and the Charles Koch Foundation, as well as prominent regional funders such as the Chamberlin Family Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.
Chris Nelson, Managing Director of the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund — also a founding supporter — explained that his organization was sold on Rivet School’s student-centric model. “We believe that traditional higher education isn’t working for too many students, and we’re inspired by Rivet School’s approach to creating a more affordable, accelerated, and career-focused pathway to a degree,” he said.
In addition to their funding milestone, Rivet School announced partnerships with some of the largest school districts and networks in California, including Oakland Unified School District, San Francisco Unified School District, KIPP Bay Area Public Schools, and Rocketship Public Schools.
Co-Executive Director, Rivet School