Researching the Idea
When we created our model, we knew that the basic idea had been tested in Australia and parts of Europe. We also knew that various economic big thinkers – Milton Friedman, Robert Reich – believed this structure for paying for college could work.
But would it?
We talked to a number of foundations to determine whether they were interested in providing us with seed money to get started. Their responses: not our idea, not precisely our area of focus, we’re only interested in funding things with a proven track record, come back when you have an established program, etc.
So, we thought, “Let’s do a pilot. See what works. See what doesn’t work.” One of our founding Board Members suggested Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California, where he was then a Vice President in charge of Student Services. We said, “Why not?” We dug into our own pockets to fund a limited number of students, and we formed a non-profit corporation called AHC - Take Flight to implement the program.
We met with a number of students, and ultimately four of them received refundable grants after they finished at Allan Hancock and went on to four-year universities. They are now in their second year on the 13th Avenue plan. You can see two of them describing their experience in this video. For 2013, we have another group of Allan Hancock Students seeking assistance through AHC - Take Flight. We just admitted seven students to our second class.
For these students, the 13th Avenue Refundable Grant program has proved a way to pay for college. The same approach might work in your community. This website is designed to provide the basics for starting your own program.
If you want to meet some our student members, view our student video