ImpactAlpha, January 8 – As the price of higher education has soared, millions of students are dropping out of school, often because of small but serious financial emergencies. That gives universities an economic imperative to help students weather such financial strains.
Brooklyn-based education startup Edquity calls itself a “tech-enabled anti-poverty company.” Edquity helps educational institutions identify at-risk students and provide immediate cash assistance for unexpected expenses, housing or food through the schools’ emergency aid funds.
Edquity’s partners include the Dallas County Community College District Foundation, which has a $400,000 fund for its more than 24,000 students living in poverty. The company says Dallas students have accessed nearly $100,000 in emergency cash grants through Edquity’s app to weather financial crises, including the recent tornadoes that left many students and other residents homeless.
Founder David Helene says the company’s stopgap measures are needed “until radical policy solutions are enacted to address the structural causes of the rampant financial insecurity in college.”
The company has raised a $2.4 million seed round led by ECMC Foundation. Investors include Omidyar Network, Spring Point Partners, the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, Michelson 20MM Foundation and Western Governors University’s seed fund, as well as existing investors Lumina Foundation and Strada Education Network.
As part of its seed round investment, Western Governors University will assess Edquity’s impact on its student population.
Edquity’s new financing follows a $500,000 investment from Lumina Foundation last February and its acquisition of Baltimore-based BridgeEDU, which offers at-risk students with coaching, academic and financial support.