Reach Higher Press Breakfast
Third Way’s higher education team hosted Eric Waldo, Executive Director of Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative for an in-depth discussion around the major priorities of their work beyond the White House.
“In our changing economy, a high school diploma isn’t enough—it’s critical that we provide resources and support to help get students to and through college. Reach Higher was established by Mrs. Obama to inspire students across the country to take charge of their future through pursuit of a postsecondary degree program.”
That’s why in 2014, Mrs. Obama went on a speaking tour to a handful of high schools across the country where she encouraged students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The results, as compiled by UVA Professor Ben Castleman were fascinating—FAFSA completion rates increased by as much as 10% at schools Mrs. Obama visited and those schools have maintained that increase over time.
Recognizing that Mrs. Obama could not visit all high schools nationwide each year, Reach Higher established programming to help scale the impact of her messaging on a macro level through flagship events like College Signing Day , and helpful college access tools like the innovative free text message service UpNext that offers personalized support on the FAFSA and all things financial aid and college affordability.
In 2016, more than 600,000 students across the country attended a College Signing Day event and over 1,250,000 text messages were sent utilizing the UpNext tool supporting high school seniors, currently enrolled college students, and recent college graduates.