College Possible

St. Paul, MN   |


College Possible makes college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support.

Ruling year info



Mr. Al Fan

Main address

755 Prior Ave N Suite 210

St. Paul, MN 55104 USA

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Formerly known as

Admission Possible



NTEE code info

Secondary/High School (B25)

Higher Education Institutions (B40)

Undergraduate College (4-year) (B42)

IRS filing requirement

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

A college degree is the surest pathway out of poverty for individuals, and the key to community and economic vitality. However, youth from low-income backgrounds earn college degrees at shockingly lower rates than their upper-income peers. Just 32% of students from the lowest income quartile earn a college degree within six years of high school graduation, compared to 71% from the top quartile (2018 Pell Institute’s Indicators Report, using CPS data through 2016). College Possible provides resources to students from low-income backgrounds to help ensure they are able to succeed in earning a college degree. Compared to their peers from low-income backgrounds, College Possible students are three times more likely to earn a college degree.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

College Possible

Our intensive program provides students from low-income backgrounds with the tools they need to earn admission to and succeed in college. AmeriCorps members, supervised by full-time members of our leadership team, provide intensive one-on-one and group guidance to students through every stage of the college process: from preparation to application and persistence to graduation.

The application of the AmeriCorps national service model to the issue of college access and success is one of the key innovations of College Possible’s solution, and the organization became the first in the nation to use and prove its effectiveness. We place recent college graduates as AmeriCorps members to serve as full-time “coaches” to students. Matched with College Possible’s structured curriculum, these idealistic, motivated leaders are powerful messengers to students and work with them every day as full-time mentors. The coaches’ commitment to a year-long term of service ensures that they will bring the passion and energy that will achieve the level of intensity necessary for outstanding results. The AmeriCorps model allows for a highly successful and cost-effective solution.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

College Possible’s flagship high school programming starts at the beginning of students’ junior year. AmeriCorps service members, called coaches, serve full-time at the high school. Coaches serve as student mentors, resources and advocates, building a culture of high expectations in which students excel. Coaches lead multiple small group sessions per week, with 10-20 high school students at a time. Typically these coaches will support 35-40 students throughout the year. Over the course of two years, students commit to participating in after-school sessions, college fairs and college campus visits. These after-school sessions are two hours each, twice per week, giving students a consistent meeting schedule that allows them to build a supportive peer group, a key factor to student academic success. Each high school student has the opportunity to receive a total of 320 hours of direct instruction.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

After high school, College Possible continues to serve our students throughout their college career as they work toward graduation and workforce entry. College coaches are highly trained to assist with the challenges students from low-income backgrounds face when navigating higher education. They provide targeted, proactive support to foster college enrollment, persistence and graduation by addressing common academic, financial and cultural barriers to students’ college success.

College coaches provide individualized support and troubleshooting using smart technology, texting, smart phone tools, one-on-one assistance (in-person and by-phone) and in some cases group workshops and on-campus support. Coaches continue to work with students through college graduation.

Population(s) Served
Young adults
Economically disadvantaged people

In response to the needs in areas outside of the metropolitan areas where we are based, we are implementing a tech-connected model focused on improving achievement of students from low-income backgrounds, in geographically underserved areas. After a two-year pilot in Minnesota, similar programing has been implemented in Oregon and Wisconsin.

Rural communities and nonmetropolitan areas across the U.S. are not identical, and the solutions to increased college access must be adaptable. In Minnesota, we have implemented a purely tech-connected coaching model, in which coaches engage selected students through email, text, social media, discussion boards and virtual workshops. In Oregon and Wisconsin, each site has developed a specific blend of strategies for student engagement, utilizing both traditional in-person, near-peer coaching method and tech-connected approaches. College Possible coaches travel to each partner school to meet in-person with a cohort of students and also meet virtually with each student.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Students from low-income backgrounds are often steered toward less-demanding colleges, regardless of their qualifications. This undermatching can result in lower graduation rates, and, long-term, can have significant negative impacts on economic inequality. In 2014, College Possible was invited to join a community of college access organizations convened by Bloomberg Philanthropies to address this challenge. The CollegePoint tech-connected coaching model was launched with the goal to increase the number of high-achieving, low-and moderate-income students who apply to rigorous, selective schools. CollegePoint has rapidly expanded, and College Possible serves approximately 5,000 students yearly via this innovative program.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Catalyze builds the capacity of colleges and universities to adopt and integrate College Possible’s proven college coaching model into their own infrastructure to better support every low-income and first-generation college student on campus, from matriculation through graduation. A Catalyze partnership allows colleges and universities to tailor the College Possible model to meet their unique needs. By partnering with College Possible, campuses can enhance their support services for students from low-income backgrounds and close the opportunity gap.

In 2016 we started pilot programs at four Minnesota-based institutions. The program has now expanded to nine institutions nationwide, including: Augsburg University, St. Cloud State University, Coe College (IA), Luther College (IA), the University of Cincinnati (OH), Austin Peay State University (TN), Morgan State University (MD), Vaughn College (NY), and California State University Stanislaus (CA). Each of these institutions hosts on-campus coaches who support college students, from low-income backgrounds, with College Possible’s tried-and-true curriculum and coaching.

Population(s) Served
Young adults
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work


Midwest Region Innovation Award for "Getting In" 2010

CollegeKeys Compact

Human Relations Award 2009

National Association for College Admission Counseling

Organization Award of Excellence 2009

National College Access Network

Inducted into International Ashoka Fellowship 2006

Ashoka: Innovators for the Public

Community Luminary Award 2007

General Electric

Best Entry-Level Jobs 2008

Princeton Review's

Award for Small Business Excellence in Nonprofits 2008


Human Relations Award 2009

National Association for College Admission Counseling

Community Partnership Award 2011

Mutual of America

Alumni Achievement Award 2012

Harvard Kennedy School

Ingenuity Award in Education 2012

Financial Times/Citi

Midwest Region Innovation Award for "Getting Through" 2013

CollegeKeys Compact

Evergreen National Education Prize 2018

Evergreen National Education Prize

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

College Possible makes college graduation possible for capable, low-income students. We envision a day when the future of America's children is determined solely by talent, motivation and effort.

Founded in Minneapolis-St. Paul in 2000, College Possible has refined and replicated a model to help low-income students earn admission to and graduate from college. Our model harnesses the power of national service, resulting in a cost-efficient and results-driven program. Based on our record of success, we expanded into Milwaukee, WI in 2008; Omaha, NE in 2011; Portland, OR in 2012; Philadelphia, PA in 2013; and Chicago, IL in 2015. In 2019, we merged with Seattle-based College Access Now to create College Possible Washington. College Possible serves about 25,000 students annually across the country. A college degree is the likeliest pathway out of poverty and can profoundly change individuals' lives, our community and our economy. Due to the complexities of the higher education system, low-income, first-generation, and students of color are the demographic groups least likely to attend college, which are the student demographics College Possible serves.

Through our proven curriculum, College Possible:
1. Fosters early college planning and preparation by delivering College Prep Talks for middle and early high school students.

2. Addresses common academic, social and financial barriers to college via programming for high school participants during their junior and senior years. This curriculum: helps juniors increase their average ACT/SAT test scores; provides all participants with social and cultural support; helps students build and sustain peer networks and connect to existing college resources; and helps students increase their financial planning skills, identify scholarships and complete financial aid forms.

3. Increases college admission and enrollment rates by: improving student understanding of the admissions process and support their applications, and helping students identify colleges that are the best match for them (colleges where they are most likely to succeed).

4. Increases college persistence and graduation rates of the college students we serve by: providing one-on-one coaching to college students tailored to their individual needs, fostering a sense of belonging on campus by helping students build their peer and professional networks, and promoting help-seeking behaviors so students take advantage of the array of supportive services available to them at their institution.

College Possible works with students from the beginning of their junior year of high school and stays by their side until they graduate from college. We achieve best in field results by connecting low-income students in the academic middle to a coach – an idealistic, motivated recent college graduate who dedicates a year or more of service to College Possible through AmeriCorps. The coach acts as a mentor, cheerleader and navigator, helps the student understand the confusing path to college admission and persistence, and breaks down the higher education system into manageable and understandable pieces.

Junior year programming is focused on the following areas:

- College awareness: introduction to the benefits of college and process for entering
- Academic support: support in math, science, writing and reading comprehension
- Financial planning: introduction to financial literacy, financial aid and money management
- Test preparation: intensive ACT/SAT preparation to ensure student scores reflect true aptitude, improve academic preparation for college and help improve college admission opportunities.
- College Campus visits: group visits to campuses to help students envision themselves in college and start the selection process

Senior year programming is focused on the following areas:

- College selection/college fit: individual support to develop a list of target colleges and determine the best match for the student
- College application: support to prepare college applications, write essays and secure reference letters
- Financial aid consulting: intensive individualized assistance in securing financial aid and scholarships
- Financial planning: practical financial tools utilizing an evidence-based curriculum
- College transition and summer-bridge: programming to help students matriculate to college after high school graduation including: class enrollment and preparation for the financial, academic, and social-cultural transition to post-secondary education

College programming is focused on the following areas:

- College academics: offer early, proactive contact in the first year of college to discuss study skills, use of office hours and campus tutoring services and managing college academic work loads
- Financing a college education: provide guidance to students has they learn to manage their account balances, and ensure students pursue all viable financial resources, including work-study positions renewing FAFSA and renewing or finding new scholarships
- Building campus connections: help students develop on-campus networks by organizing study groups or Facebook groups to create structured, supportive environments
- Transferring or re-enrolling: support students who elect to transfer or withdraw when necessary, and also help them pursue re-enrollment as soon as it is a viable option
- Career preparation: prepare for post-graduation work by covering topics such as internships, campus career services and networking

College Possible is led by a National Board of Directors and local board members at all seven College Possible sites. The leadership team is made up full-time staff members and AmeriCorps service members who deliver services to our students and AmeriCorps VISTA service members who assist in organizational capacity building. The application of the AmeriCorps national service model to the issue of college access is one of the key innovations of College Possible's solution. College Possible was the first in the nation to use this model and prove its effectiveness. The AmeriCorps model allows for a successful, cost-effective and highly replicable solution.

College Possible uses a copyrighted curriculum and logic model that have been developed and revised through nearly twenty years of application and evaluation. College Possible's National Office provides program management and support services, and centralized infrastructure and resources for sites. This management structure maximizes economies of scales, allowing all sites to operate at lower costs as they mature and grow.

Since our founding, College Possible has grown to six sites and become a nationally recognized leader in closing the degree divide for students from low-income backgrounds. College Possible has been invited to the White House on nine separate occasions, and since 2016 has been actively participating in former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, which promotes the completion of post-secondary education for all students. College Possible’s CEO and founder Jim McCorkell was also selected to join President Bill Clinton at the final plenary session of the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative America meeting to announce College Possible’s new strategic plan, Catalyze, to build and catalyze a national network of coaches, embedded on our country’s college campuses. In 2017, College Possible was honored by a transformative 10-year, $20 million gift from the Ballmer Group. Their gift is not only a testament to the excellent work of College Possible, but also trust in the long-term vision and continued innovation of the organization.

Our results are among the best in the nation in the field of college success for low-income students.
- 97% of College Possible students earn admission to college.
- Our students are three times more likely to graduate from college than their low-income peers.
- Our students graduate near the rate of the national average for all college students, indicating that we’re truly leveling the playing field for low-income students in pursuit of a college degree.
- More than 3,000 College Possible students have earned a college degree since our first graduating class of high school seniors in 2002.


College Possible

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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College Possible

Board of directors
as of 08/09/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Joanna Burleson

Monitor Institute of Deloitte

Joelle Murchison

University of Connecticut

Shannon Bins

Ecolab Inc.

Joanna Burleson

Monitor Institute

Marlene Ibsen

The Travelers Companies, Inc

Andrea Mokros

Weber Shandwick

Daniel Lugo

Queens University of Charlotte

Donnell Butler

Opportunity College

Doreen James Wise

Nurse Entrepreneur

Fayneese Miller

Hamline University

Jenny Rickard

Common App

Suzanne Rivera

Macalester College

Adam Wray


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/25/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


No data

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data