Braven: Using Clearinghouse Data to Help Low-Income Students Succeed
In 2013, CEO and Founder Aimée Eubanks Davis launched Braven, having identified the education-to-employment gap faced by some of the most promising young leaders. Braven, together with universities and employers, implements innovative career education into the undergraduate experience for low-income and first-generation college students to empower tomorrow’s professional workforce. Today, Braven works with San Jose State University, Rutgers University-Newark, National Louis University, and Lehman College.
In 2019, nearly 340 Braven Fellows graduated from college, more than doubling the number of Braven graduates who are now working professionals. This new class of graduates is outpacing their peers nationally in strong job attainment by 22 percentage points (71% vs. 49%) within six months of graduation. Additionally, 49% are already outearning their parents in their first job out of college. By comparison, Americans, on the whole, have a 50-50 chance of outearning their parents by age 30. Over the last seven years, Braven has helped give nearly 2,400 students access to the tools they need to transition from school to employment.
Braven uses the National Student Clearinghouse’s StudentTracker for Outreach service to obtain accurate data about student success. The Clearinghouse spoke with Lucy Abbot, Braven’s Director of Data & Research, to learn how the service helps Braven accomplish its mission.
It is clear that Braven values data. Why is this important to the organization?
Using data to drive decision-making and measure impact is embedded in our DNA. When Braven began in 2013, we ran lots of pilots and iterated quickly, relying on programmatic data to tell us which program model was most effective. The practices we developed of defining metrics up front, monitoring engagement in dashboards, and measuring outcomes rigorously have stayed with us over the past seven years.
How did Braven get started using StudentTracker?
We started using StudentTracker at Braven very early in our operations. From the start, we have partnered with multiple university partners, meaning that we need to understand and follow the paths of students from different institutions. Using StudentTracker saves us (and our university partners!) a lot of time pulling data requests and ensures data across institutions is consistent.
StudentTracker supports our annual impact report, which among other outcomes, includes data on Braven Fellows’ college persistence rates.
How does StudentTracker data help Braven have insight into opportunities or challenges to address? Why is this helpful to your organization?
Braven’s model is structured around the Accelerator course: a one-semester, hybrid learning experience that students take for college credit, typically during their sophomore or junior year. Between course completion and graduation, we offer lighter touch, targeted programming to Fellows to ensure they are all on the path to securing a strong opportunity upon graduation. Data from StudentTracker helps us target our programming more effectively at scale, by giving us updates on which Fellows are graduating when, and which may have transferred.
In our current crisis, why is accurate data, and not surveys, key for your organization?
We rely on data from many different sources, including surveys, to support our Fellows and measure Braven’s impact. However, it is beneficial when we can to use a tool like StudentTracker to secure updates about Fellows’ academic progress without asking them to fill out a survey. This saves valuable Braven staff time, as well as reduces the burden of data collection on our Fellows, who are already juggling many responsibilities and communications.
What would you tell other nonprofits and education organizations about StudentTracker?
Using StudentTracker has been an efficient and effective way to secure key updates about our Fellows. Using StudentTracker has become even more critical for Braven as we have quickly grown the number of students we serve and the number of institutions we partner with. As we grow, the process for using StudentTracker remains as simple as ever, while using surveys or direct outreach for data collection gets more costly.
Discover the numerous ways StudentTracker helps other institutions throughout the country by reviewing other case studies.
“Data from StudentTracker helps us target our programming more effectively at scale, by giving us updates on which Fellows are graduating when, and which may have transferred.”
Director of Data & Research, Braven