Course Hero Teams Up With Believe in Students, Edquity to Close Emergency Aid Gaps for All College Students

April 30, 2020


Emergency aid initiative will support students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to promote college success, including non-Title IV students left out of CARES Act

REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. – Course Hero, in partnership with Edquity and nonprofit Believe in Students, today announced the launch of an ambitious emergency aid initiative, which will direct targeted financial assistance to college students experiencing financial hardship in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, including non-Title IV students left out of the CARES Act. Launched by Course Hero, the initiative will utilize Edquity’s pioneering emergency aid platform to address rising food insecurity, housing, and other pressing needs as institutions close or move to remote instruction.

“By tapping the reach and expertise of higher education organizations with broad networks and deep expertise, we’re able to act quickly to deliver aid to students and close resource and equity gaps that are not new, but are particularly severe at this time,” said Andrew Grauer, CEO of Course Hero. “These mission-aligned partners, by virtue of their deep experience collaborating with colleges and universities, will help us quickly deliver funds directly to students. We hope that our initial commitment serves as a catalyst for further investment.”

Despite massive federal investments, nearly 1.5 million students will not receive support, according to recently published CARES Act guidance. Students excluded from access to critical emergency support include Dreamers, justice-impacted students, former foster-care youth, international students, students who have been forced from their homes, or are estranged from their parents.

Designed to allow business and philanthropic donors to build on an initial $500,000 commitment from Course Hero, and an additional $500,000 from the ECMC Foundation and Imaginable Futures, the initiative will roll out in two distinct phases.

In the first phase, multiple education nonprofits, convened by Course Hero, will distribute funds -- and raise awareness -- among students and administrators.

  • Achieving the Dream, a national reform network of more than 275 community colleges elevating two-year colleges as engines of social and economic mobility;
  • American Association of State Colleges and Universities, a national membership network of nearly 400 public colleges, universities and systems.
  • Excelencia in Education, a national nonprofit offering research, policy and practice and a network of colleges and universities to serve Latino student success in higher education;
  • The University Innovation Alliance, a national coalition of innovative large public research universities, whose pioneering work to increase the number and diversity of college graduates in the United States, in six years has already led to 33 percent more low-income graduates, and graduates of color by 56 percent.

“The current crisis is causing extreme financial hardships for millions of Latino students as they face mounting emergency costs, often separated from on-campus resources and support. We know from the research that even relatively small costs can create significant barriers to student success, so investments in emergency student aid are among the most important actions we can take in support of student success,” said Sarita E. Brown, co-founder and president of Excelencia in Education. “This unique philanthropic partnership will help to deliver critical emergency financial aid resources to students and campuses in need.”

In the Initiative’s second phase, Edquity will distribute funds to students on a broader basis through a central, consistent application, all while providing seamless support to make administration easy. This will include at its existing partner institutions at community colleges in Dallas, Seattle, and Los Angeles, new partners all across the country, and direct to students signed up with Course Hero.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issues a majority of college students face, including access to food, housing, childcare, and other basic needs. Students ineligible for federal support are more likely to experience financially precarious circumstances due to their limited access to funding in the first place,” said Traci Kirtley, Executive Director of Believe in Students. “This initiative will help to ensure that all of our students are supported and stay on the path to graduation while remaining safe and healthy.”

“All students are worthy of support to stay in college,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, Edquity’s Chief Strategy Officer for Emergency Aid. "Making good on our equity mission demands that we get financial support out to as many students as quickly as possible, and ensure that they need not perform their poverty or reveal their citizenship status to get help. That said, despite all the good this fund can do, the ultimate responsibility lies with Congress to ensure that future funds can go to all students— including undocumented students— our efforts here do not obviate that obligation at all.”

The initiative comes just in time, as colleges and universities are struggling to meet the needs of students dealing with many hardships. A February 2020 report from the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice documented extensive food and housing insecurity among the nation’s college students. A March 2020 survey conducted by Course Hero revealed that food insecurity and housing each accounted for a quarter of students’ overall emergency aid needs, followed by costs associated with lost jobs and technology like laptops and Wi-Fi.

“Talent is universal but opportunity is not,” said Wes Moore, CEO of the anti-poverty charitable organization Robin Hood and an Edquity board member. “Despite the intent of Congress, the Department of Education has further restricted the opportunities of a large number of students who we are relying on for the health of our economy and democracy. This initiative recognizes that each and every student is critical and important to our collective success, and will provide the economic relief that is sorely needed by students in the face of one of the most acute economic challenges our nation has ever faced -- while championing our nation’s most fundamental value that all are created equal.”

Contributions to the initiative can be directed to Believe in Students, a national nonprofit on a mission to support college students’ living expenses. Since the start of the pandemic, Believe in Students has supported students with these needs at 36 institutions around the country.

“Achieving the Dream is honored to be one of the nonprofits working with Course Hero to close aid gaps for community college students,” said Dr. Karen Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “We know that aid gaps are at the heart of equity gaps that prevent too many talented students from earning credentials and degrees that improve their economic mobility and their prospects for the future. Too many financially needy community college students are being left behind by the CARES Act. This partnership is one small way that ATD can help our colleges to make a larger difference in their communities.”


About Believe in Students: Believe in Students is the nation’s only non-profit organization focused exclusively on supporting college students’ living expenses. They develop and support innovative, sustainable, and effective solutions that can scale to meet the widespread demands. Their current portfolio includes a range of evidence-based programs, including its inaugural program, FAST Fund; a Student Emergency Aid Fund in partnership with Edquity; and the Gather Food Hall in partnership with Little Giant Creative. BIS also supports the national #RealCollege movement created by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice.

About Course Hero: Founded by college student, Andrew Grauer, in 2006, Course Hero is on a mission to help students graduate confident and prepared. Today, Course Hero’s unique, collective action framework enables students to either subscribe, or contribute their own resources to earn a Netflix-like subscription to more than 40 million course materials, tutoring and support resources. More than 37,000 faculty across the U.S. and Canada have joined the Course Hero faculty community to share their resources, collaborate with faculty in other fields, and hone new strategies for instruction.

About Edquity: Edquity provides the first-ever student-centered technology platform designed to administer emergency aid to college students, using an evidence-based approach to get students to access cash assistance in 48 hours. The technology allows students to quickly complete an application either on a mobile device or on the web and has been documented to improve retention rates for the highest risk student populations, even in the wake of natural disasters and crises.