Low-Income Families Are Disproportionately Hurt by the Pandemic

by | Aug 20, 2020 | Insider

For 10 years, Inversant has provided comprehensive college access education to families. But when the pandemic hit, we knew we’d have to make adjustments.

With face-to-face learning no longer available, we began to reinvent communication and collaboration. With both the families we serve and internally as an organization. As we worked to find our footing, exciting changes began to take place.

Understanding that low-to-moderate income families are disproportionately hurt by the pandemic due to greater barriers with distance learning, we set out to design solutions that leverage our experience to date. In other words, our high-tech needed to be low-tech, frictionless, and accessible.

We also knew we’d have to increase internal capacities to support the most underserved segments of our families. Those without smartphones, computers, or broadband access.

This week’s update is a retrospective and view into our future. Find out what we’ve learned, what changes are still to come, and how we’re forging ahead.

PROGRAM UPDATES

Alumni Assistance Fund

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way students live and learn. As Massachusetts schools closed their doors, Inversant families adjusted to sweeping change.

Those changes once again laid bare educational inequity. Limited access to technology and financial resources amplified widening inequality.

The Inversant Alumni Assistance Fund addresses the immediate needs of our families. We committed $50,000 to support urgent necessities.

We designed a communications campaign for 4 weeks which reached its goal (a 48% response rate) in 3 days. Each response shared how they’ll use this relief:

  • College Expenses: 42%
  • General Expenses: 19%
  • Student Loan Payments: 11%
  • Unexpected Costs: 10%
  • Other: 18%

“I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Inversant. I am so grateful to have been introduced so many years ago.”

Leah Arteaga, Inversant Alumni

We are honored to serve our families during this time of unmitigated disaster.

Cash for College

Inversant’s college savings plan supports low to moderate-income families. We’re helping them build financial capital and skills to achieve their college goals.

Through our decade of experience, we’ve sent more than 1,000 families to and through college.

We’ve helped these families:

  • Save towards their goals
  • Learn about the college application process
  • Decipher college tuition costs
  • Understand scholarship opportunities
  • Applying for financial aid
  • Write stand out essays
  • Get accepted to the school of their dreams
  • Move their communities forward

Bryan Guzman is one of those students. A 2015 Inversant graduate and 2019 graduate of Boston University, Bryan is committed to the betterment of his community.

He’s currently serving clients at Merrill Lynch and working on his CFA. He says none of this would have been possible without the support of his mom.

“My mom has always instilled this competitive spirit in me. Just knowing someone believes in me with so much conviction makes it difficult to lose focus and motivation.”

Bryan Guzman, Inversant Alumni

We’ve also learned the challenges our families face in keeping higher education affordable. Many make difficult choices to reduce the financial burden. They end up delaying their education and career aspirations.

To deepen our understanding, we partnered with our sister organization, Hildreth Institute. Through extensive research, we uncovered the most urgent unmet needs.

We received additional reinforcement of what we already knew; that most financial aid only covers direct college expenses. This created a financial barrier many low and moderate-income students couldn’t overcome.

Between living costs and indirect expenses, students faced overwhelming obstacles.

We took that data and those learnings and incorporated it into our scholarship pilot, “Cash for College.” Through this initiative, we’ll support more families than ever before.

We’ll also continue to raise awareness around the systemic barriers to higher education. We seek to encourage more effort from colleges and funders in the public sector. They must consider expanding equity and access to higher education.

Be on the lookout for further updates and ways you can support this new initiative.

ADVANCEMENT UPDATES

Chairman’s Challenge

The unprecedented nature of the Coronavirus pandemic is calling for extraordinary measures. That’s why Inversant Founder and Chairman of the Board, Bob Hildreth committed $50,000 to the Alumni Assistance Fund.

The fund was set up to support families with unexpected expenses.

As the coronavirus continues to affect local communities, we’re determined to support Inversant families in meeting their immediate needs.

Will you join Bob in the “Chairman’s Challenge” and help us support Inversant Alumni experiencing job loss, illness, and other painful effects of the virus?

Help more Inversant Alumni Families by donating just $100 a month!

GuideStar Gold Status

Inversant has earned the 2020 Gold Seal of Transparency on its GuideStar Profile.

GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations. Its Nonprofit Profiles provide donors and researchers with the information needed to make smart funding decisions.

GuideStar’s searchable database contains more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized organizations. A GuideStar Nonprofit Profile displays information on a single nonprofit. The data GuideStar compiles on nonprofits come from the IRS and the nonprofits themselves.

To improve the data standard around nonprofit information, GuideStar issues a series of reporting requirements.
Organizations that meet the requirements can earn one of four seals: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. Each seal indicates that a nonprofit has committed to a particular level of transparency.

Throughout the process, Inversant provided vital information. This gives potential donors and funders better insight into our work.

We earned the Gold Seal by answering these five powerful questions:

  • What is your organization aiming to accomplish?
  • What are your strategies for making this happen?
  • What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?
  • How will your organization know if you are making progress?
  • What have you accomplished so far and what’s next?

Our next step is completing the application for the Platinum Seal of Transparency. We’ll share up to 5 year’s worth of quantitative measures of progress and results.

This will help us better illustrate the difference our work makes.


MID-YEAR REVIEW

The Inversant team came together last week to review the work done from January through July. We reflected on the unique challenges faced in 2020, our milestones and achievements, and the support of our families in this new world.

Here’s a Look Back at a Few:

  • Pizza Party – We conceived this brand new program and executed it in a matter of weeks. With the pandemic, we realized celebrating in person wouldn’t be possible. That’s when the Programs Team jumped into action. From June 22nd to July 1st, we celebrated 164 seniors in 159 households.
  • SMS and Mobile Based Learning Modules – Transitioning our programs from in-person to online was a big undertaking. Through it, we learned a new way to communicate.
  • Live Video Series – We launched a 5-part Facebook Live series. Inversant Insights with host Charles Desmond, Inversant CEO explores equity in higher education.
  • Fundraisers – Accelerate Access, Alumni Assistance Fund, and Chairman’s Challenge. These are only a few we’ve launched over the last several months. With your help, we continue to bring support to our families, especially during a pandemic.

As I shared during our meeting, the team has worked hard to adapt. Throughout the months we’ve strived to learn more, support more, and be more to our community.

“We’ve come through with a sustainable solution during a time of crisis. We continue to listen, innovate, bringing the right ideas, and launching them at the right time.”

Charles Desmond, Inversant CEO

What We’ve Learned

Change doesn’t happen without us acquiring new skills. We’ve improved how we work together by learning:

  • How to be agile
  • How to imagine new solutions
  • How to work from home and stay in touch and motivated
  • How to collaborate in a remote environment

This has been an amazing time of heroism. Every team member has stepped up and stepped in to ensure the success of Inversant during these difficult times.

“We have a very strategic group of people that are high-level thinkers willing to move rapidly.”

Yiming Shuang, Inversant CEO

What’s Next?

  • A $2,500 scholarship pilot for college students
  • Scaling version two of our SMS/Mobile Learning Modules (Series)
  • A savings challenge to better equip families with the knowledge they need
  • FAFSA educational module to increase awareness and debunk myths around the application process
  • And so much more!

DONOR SPOTLIGHT

Exelon Generation is America’s leading provider of zero-carbon nuclear energy. They generate power that’s reliable, every minute of the day. Customers count on Exelon daily for reliable, efficient, often innovative energy production.

We thank Exelon for their commitment to reliable, clean, and affordable energy. We’re also deeply grateful for their support of Inversant’s mission.

Together, we’re providing essential support for a brighter, more sustainable future.

YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT

To ensure Inversant families’ college dreams remain intact, we need your help. And every time we’ve asked, you’ve been ready to assist.

Through the pandemic, we’re heartened by the outpouring of gifts and grants. We are forever grateful to you – our supporters.

Thank you for being a part of our Inversant family for the last 10 years! We wouldn’t be here without you.

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Help us spread the word about the important work we’re doing.